What’s the USP of Harper’s Bazaar as a lifestyle magazine in India?
Harper’s Bazaar is a brand that has been around for more than 145 years internationally. In India, since our launch in 2009, we’ve grown as the most preferred magazine by affluent women in India, which forms our core TG. Our content is best in class, be it in terms of stories, images, design etc. As a magazine, we always strive to delight, inform and inspire our readers. That’s our USP.
Having a digital presence is mighty important for a brand like Harper's Bazaar. How come the India edition doesn’t have digital presence?
Of course it is important to have digital presence. For us, it is work in progress. Creating a website for a brand like ours can’t be done overnight. A fair amount of strategy goes into building a brand online. We’re looking at that currently, and you will know eventually when we do launch the Harper’s Bazaar India website.
What are the marketing initiatives you undertake to promote the brand?
We do a campaign every six months and mostly look at print, outdoor and digital. We do very little television because we do not believe in going mass media. It’s like going all over the place. We’ve changed our positioning from ‘Where Fashion Gets Personal’ to ‘Always in Fashion’. The thought process behind this is pretty simple. We want to be a timeless brand. So from the earlier positioning, where the brand was looked upon as a personal style brand, we’re now trying to change that into making it a timeless brand. All our communications will focus on that from here on. We have featured Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma and Sonam Kapoor on the cover, and we’re promoting that at the time being.
How can we correct the declining readership of magazines? Are we seeing the same trend with lifestyle magazines too?
I do not agree with the current readership study where it states that magazine readership is declining when circulation is rising. Lifestyles of consumers is constantly evolving; there is more demand for special interest magazines; consumer aspirations are rising, so they want to know more, they want to read. A magazine is not just about content; it is about an experience. In my view, the industry has to come up with solutions to accurately measure the readership of niche magazines, which I feel is not done in the best possible ways currently. If the readership was declining, why would international companies continue to launch magazines in India? In the past three to five years, there have been so many launches. And I think this trend will continue, because lifestyles are changing, people are becoming more fashionable, they’re more informed and are eager to know more, they want to travel and want to fulfill their aspirations and dreams - so the need for a magazine is that much more.
How are circulation revenues growing for Harper’s Bazaar?
In India, circulation revenues are never so high because we are still the lowest cover price market in the world. In other countries, you would find the cover price of a Harper’s Bazaar or a Cosmopolitan at four dollars or five. In India the cover price is typically Rs 100. Though it is much better than what it used to be earlier (between Rs 30 and 50), I still feel it is on the lower side. I think it’s only fair that the consumer pays for the content because a lot of time, effort and money get invested in creating content.
So circulation revenues are definitely growing, but in comparison with the rest of the world, there’s still a long way to go.
Has the slowdown impacted the revenues for Harper’s Bazaar?
It impacts everybody. Luxury brands are not as affected as other categories, but what happens in other countries impacts India too. It’s not been very bad. 2013, I think should be a good year.