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Essay: Marketing – newspapers

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  • Published: 4 November 2015*
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A newspaper is distinct as it is a combination of product and service. In almost all the newspaper organizations there will be two departments taking care of these marketing activities, Advertisement department takes care of promoting space to the commercial advertisers and the Circulation department takes care of generating new subscriptions and distribution of copies to the existing ones. Strategies of both the departments should complement each other for the overall success of the organization. Distinctive nature of Newspaper makes it a bit complex for marketers to chalk out promotional strategies. The marketing departments in a newspaper organization, will be involved in formulating marketing plans for both advertisement and circulation departments. Revenue through advertisements will influence the cover price of a newspaper to a large extent. ‘Cover price’ refers to the price at which the newspaper is sold.
In the present market scenario, the newspapers are sold much below their cost of production, and this gap is being made good by the advertisement revenue. For example, cost of the paper which is used for newspapers, (which is usually called ‘newsprint’) will account for about 55 percent of the cover price. This was elaborated in Table 3.11 of this chapter. As one of the objective of this study revolves around the circulation activity, this study will examine the marketing practices for promoting newspaper as a product, i.e., from the circulation perspective.
The entry and exit barriers for print newspaper are less but there is fierce competition for maximizing their market share in terms of circulation numbers and advertisement revenue. Each major market has one dominant player and it is difficult for the new entrants to spread in that area. Indian newspaper market is dominated by different newspapers in different regions, for example The Times of India in Mumbai and The Hindu in Chennai, Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad etc.,
Marketing activity of a newspaper will start with identifying the geographical area which suits the business needs and tailor the product to meet the expectations of the reader. Further segmentation takes place while devising promotional plans to suit that particular segment, viz., students, women, readers of other dailies, senior citizens etc.
Newspaper, as a product is used by more than one family members, with different reading motives and behaviour. Hence, it is usually segmented to suit the cross section of readers. While the main edition caters the news and information, other pull-outs or supplements are aimed to fulfill the specialized content to ‘important segments’ that were identified by the marketing department. A carefully planned and executed segmentation will help the newspapers gain market share and also provides a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, viz., readers, advertiser and the management of the organization.
Once the market is segmented and aimed at, the marketing mix has to be finalized. Though few of the marketing mix activities will briefly touch on ‘place’ and ‘product’, it is important to have a deeper understanding about the marketing mix.
“Marketing mix” is a general phrase used to describe the different kinds of choices organizations have to make in the whole process of bringing a product or service to market. The 4Ps is one way ‘ probably the best-known way ‘ of defining the marketing mix, and was first expressed in 1960 by E J McCarthy. According to Philip Kotler – ‘Marketing Mix is the set of controllable variables that the firm can use to influence the buyer’s response’.
The 4Ps are: (1) Product or Service (2) Place (3) Price (4) Promotion (see figure 3.1)
Marketing mix is a general phrase used to describe the different choices the organization makes in the process of taking a product / service to the end consumer / into the market. Figure 3.1 gives a clear idea about the entire purpose of the marketing mix and its role in success of any marketing plan.
Figure 3.1: Marketing Mix
Unlike many other products, newspaper organizations will have a product and a service to offer. Product ‘ in the form of a physical newspaper which contains printed newspapers, Service ‘ in the form of advertisement space / timely delivery. This very nature of newspaper as a product makes it a complex task for arriving at an ideal marketing mix.
A product, in a marketing parlance, may be considered as ‘good’ or ‘service’, but it is something more than that. Product is a broad concept that also encompasses the satisfaction of all consumer needs in relation to a good, service or idea.
Newspaper is a low value and high involvement product, which is judged on a daily basis by the consumer, based on its news coverage, layout, design etc. It may be considered high involvement product in view of its association with the readers, as many of them are accustomed to reading a newspaper early in the morning and they get habituated to certain style of presentation and page navigation. Hence, reading a newspaper can also be considered as a habit . Once it becomes a habit, the involvement levels will go up. We often hear comments like ‘my day starts with morning coffee and newspaper’.
Characteristics of Newspaper
1. Newspaper is a product which is to be made ready as late as possible and to be delivered to the consumer as early as possible.
2. It loses its value with the passage of time, life of which cannot be extended by manipulating the environment.
3. Newspaper is judged by its contents on a daily basis by its reader.
4. Though delivered as a physical product, its contents determine the success
5. Newspaper is a product which is relevant only to the literate customers
6. Newspaper is probably the only consumer product which has resale value and recyclable even after the being used.
Categorizing newspaper as a product based on the information about consumer goods classification, is a complex task in view of its unusual nature. For some it may be shopping product, because they look for specific information from a specific newspaper and for some it may a casual product as their requirements from newspaper are not clearly defined.
Consumer goods can further be classified into:
1. Convenience products
2. Shopping products
3. Specialty products
Figure 3.2 depicts the above in detail.
Figure 3.2: Product classification
Based on its utility, the newspaper can be classified as a ‘consumer product’.
‘ A ‘consumer non-durable product’ based on its utility, as it will be used directly by the consumer.
‘ A tangible product as it is delivered in physical form and as a non-tangible product in view of its value addition to its readers through news analyses.
‘ A perishable product, as it loses value with the passage of time and has less shelf value.
‘ Financial newspapers can also be considered as specialty products, as the customers choose as it provides specialized features on various topics
Newspaper is an unusual combination of product and service. Its classification as a Product depends largely on how the customers look at it. For few customers it is a convenient product and for another it may be a shopping product. Even a newspaper, with good contents, will lose its value if not delivered in time. Newspaper is considered more of a service than a product. Service element is at two stages of any newspapers journey to its readers. First, in the form of relevant, reliable news and analyses, second the time of delivery. In view of these characteristics, newspaper can also be considered as service.
Product strategies of newspaper organizations
All the products and services are assessed by the consumer on the basis of quality, relevance, need-fulfillment, value delivery as per their expectations. However, Newspapers are judged on the basis of the contents they offer and time of delivery. Basic contents of a newspaper include ‘ news, analyses, photographs, advertisements, editorial etc. all of these are extremely dynamic and keep changing on a daily basis. Another important factor in newspaper as a product is the ‘layout’ of the pages. News articles should be distributed among the pages based on their importance and relevance. Layout plays a vital role. Hence it is a challenge for any newspaper to consistently provide all of the above.
Newspapers primarily meant to be news and information providers. Advancements in technology and increased competition both within the industry and from TV, Radio and Internet have necessitated the newspapers to undertake product changes keep pace with competition and increasing the product life cycle (PLC). Few of the product changes that newspapers have undertaken are given below:
Introduction of features on ‘ education, job and career, fashion, lifestyle, health, technology, leisure etc. Most of these are issued as a separate sections, to be inserted with the main newspaper. These are generally referred to as ‘supplements’. Supplements are mainly aimed at engaging the readers with the newspaper, which are released on specific days of the week.

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