Hailing from a family that has been in the business of printing and publishing for three generations, Anant Nath, director, Delhi Press, has ink running in his veins. Delhi Press is one of India’s leading groups with over 30 million readers and 31 magazines published in nine languages. While the global magazine industry faces a raft of challenges, Nath is confident about the future of the print industry in India. “While digital media is for readers to snack on, the print version is still the main course. The romanticism of the print is back and it was reinforced by most of the speakers at FIPP’s 38th Magazine Congress,” says Nath.
That said, he is in sync with the changing needs and aspiration of readers in India and constantly works on refreshing the Group’s offerings to cater to those changing reading habits. Three of the Group’s core magazines; Champak, Suman Saurabh and Mukta have been revamped.
Campaign India's Gunjan Prasad met Nath for a freewheeling chat at his Jhandewala office, abuzz with activity. The Group, with Nath’s new ideas and burst of fresh energy, is fast adapting to meet the changing business and media environment.
Gunjan Prasad: The Group has recently revamped the brand. What were the reasons behind this move?
Anant Nath: The environment in which our readers reside is changing rapidly. There is a lot more exposure due to the media choices available to them, the youth has a higher purchasing power and consumerism has spread to a far larger audience, obviously following the money.
We too have identified 8-10 cities in all Hindi speaking states as our P-1 markets. There is enough readership in these cities as each has three or more newspapers. For instance, in UP alone, we target Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Moradabad and Bareilly. There is significant latent readership and we are aiming to plug the gap.
GP: Please share with us the specifics of the re-branding f or Champak, Suman Saurabh and Mukta?
AN: The revamp of Champak was done to be in tune with the environment today’s kids live in; with easy access to international cartoon characters, online games and books. While retaining its core competence of delivering fantasy tales with a moral, the mix will now have a fair balance of interactive content like puzzles, games, etc.
Suman Saurabh’s content has been tweaked to include softer issues of life like trends, styles and relationships, along with features on professional and personal development. It is more vibrant and glitzy, yet grounded. Mukta has become free-spirited and bolder and has a fair mix of socio-political commentary along with trend-driven articles.
GP: Are the advertisers aware of the potential of the Tier II and Tier III cities?
AN: Most successful consumer goods companies are already aware of the potential and they are the ones making in-roads into these terrains. We are just following them. Interestingly, while HUL laid the basic framework fulfilling sustenance needs of the people, now mobile and durable companies are the ones catering to higher order needs. Traditionally most advertisers targeted English-language media as that was where the spending power lay. That is a fast-changing reality and astute advertisers are beginning to embrace the regional and Hindi media with great gusto.
GP: Can this process be facilitated?
AN: Persistent selling needs to be done to convince the media planners about what we can offer. We cannot be compared with other media vehicles on numbers as what we offer is unique. On our part, we realised that the diffidence and inhibition about sharing our true numbers was hurting us and we have printed our genuine circulation figures on the Delhi Press brochures.
GP: What trends do you see in magazine publishing?
AN: I see a move towards long copy formats and that for me is truly encouraging, as we have been doing in-depth features in Caravan since its inception. Increasingly magazines are expanding article sizes and that is the way forward. We have the time, effort and inclination to tell stories to our readers without worrying about volumes, a la news weeklies and television channels. We are story tellers and should go back to doing that. In the US, New Yorker, Village Voice, and even lifestyle titles such as Vanity Fair and Esquire, tell their stories beautifully.
GP: Is the gene-pool in the publishing industry shrinking?
AN: The talent crunch the newspapers and news weeklies are facing these days is due to the sheer work-load journalists have to handle. There is a constant danger of burning out good people or losing them to competition. Also, the quality of features with one or two pages lacks the required depth. That's why Caravan has long features in which our authors let the story unfold.
GP: What is your feeling about the IRS-NRS merger?
AN: At the moment no one knows about what is going to come out of the merger and how it will change things. But I sincerely hope that they are able to fine-tune the research methodology a little better and not drive it mechanically based on just ‘time-frame’ responses.
GP: Where do you see Delhi Press from five years from now?
AN: Initially, the Group was not keen on creating international partnerships and licenses. We’ve always believed in creating our own brands, not just from the business perspective but also editorially; complete ownership of the brands, what they mean and how they need to be shaped.
GP: Any international partnerships ...
AN: We realise that to move forward and to take our brands to a much larger audience base and target fresh communities, we need to increase our breadth through international partnerships. We are in talks with a few and let us see what future holds for Delhi Press.