Arati Rao
Aug 23, 2012

Q&A: Suprio Guha Thakurta, The Economist, India

Thakurta, managing director, India, explains the growth in the publication's circulation over the last five years, and the strategy behind it

Q&A: Suprio Guha Thakurta, The Economist, India

As per the latest ABC report, the print circulation of The Economist in India has doubled to reach 35,024 average weekly copies in the period January–June 2012, from 17,194 in January-June 2007.

In a statement announcing the jump, Suprio Guha Thakurta, managing director, India, attributed the rise to the consistent strategy employed in India. He said, “Our strategy has been consistent from day one-get more and more of our target audience to read our wonderful content and the numbers will follow. Key to this was to get people to our website to sample our content and those efforts seemed to have paid off with our unique visitors on the Economist’s online edition from India up over six times in June 2012 at 259,285 as compared to 37,951 in June 2007. It’s really heartening to see our focus paying off.”

We asked him a few more questions about the marketing strategy and communication strategy in India. Edited excerpts:

What are the insights about Indian consumers/readers that have been used in the marketing strategy of the magazine over the past five years?

India is one of the largest English speaking markets in the world and as more Indians go global, the need to understand the world better is increasing. In this scenario, The Economist with its incisive standpoints and comprehensive analyses helps one interpret the world.

The Economist's marketing strategy has been to increase awareness about the brand, creating content sampling opportunities and then sending out the subscription offers in a personalised environment.

Has the profile of the average reader of The Economist (print) changed over the years? What would be the split between subscribers and non-subscribers of the overall circulation?

The profile of the reader continues to be the same; the only thing that has changed is that we have more of them now. We describe our readers as intellectually curious, well-travelled individuals who enjoy reading. Based on a research done earlier this year (The Economist/IPSOS 2012 study),

  • 95 per cent of our readers are male
  • 42.5 per cent C-Suite
  • 61.3 per cent of our readers are top/senior management
  • 15.92 air trips were made on an average during the past one year by our readers

Fifty seven per cent of our copies are circulated to subscribers; the rest go to news-stands and corporate buyers.

Has the profile of the average reader from India of the The Economist online changed?

The Economist’s online reader in India is far younger than his print counterpart. It's a function of the exponential growth in the digital space. The typical user is about 30 to 35 years old. Seventy per cent of them are males, highly qualified professionals or entrepreneurs. The world, for them has no boundaries and knowledge and information is the key to success.

How has the communication strategy of the brand evolved? What new can we expect on that front?

Our marketing objectives have remained the same: increase awareness, and thus ever since we started marketing the brand in India, we have been consistently communicating on the platform of 'Interpret the world'. And our creative partners, Ogilvy, have done a great job in creating engaging communication around it, which got us a Cannes metal in 2010.

One can expect more interactive communication from the brand which will engage people who enjoy reading.

Which have been the advertisers from India that have stayed with the magazine?

Some of our regular advertisers are:  Taj Group of Hotels, IBM India Ltd, Indian School of Business, Volkswagen Group, Lodha Developers, Total Environment, Kerala Tourism, Karnataka Tourism, and the Ministry of Tourism (GoI).

How successful has the supplement 'The Intelligent Life' been? Are there plans to introduce more such supplements for readers here?

We have received very encouraging feedback on The Intelligent Life supplement. It appears to give a nice balance to our regular content. The response has been very encouraging from advertisers also; we have been selling out the limited ad pages in each supplement. As of now, there is no plan to introduce any more supplements.

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