Having completed expansion in one of the largest Hindi-speaking markets, Bihar, in October-November 2017, Dainik Bhaskar has claimed to be the second most read newspaper in the state with 9.11 lakh readers in six months. The newspaper had launched in the state with a couple of editions in January 2014.
Through a research conducted by Hansa Research, a readership survey report for Bihar was released on Tuesday, which validated the claims of the newspaper of having stood at the No. 2 position.
The research was conducted across 13 towns in Bihar, with a sample size of 2085 respondents, varying across age group of 12+ years, gender, all NCCS categories. Interestingly, the research was restricted to the urban towns with one lakh plus population. While the new IRS 2017 came in January 2018 and has been appreciated by the industry, why was therea need to commission a separate research?
Girish Agarwaal, Promoter-Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group, said, “IRS will take six to eight months to come out and we had launched the Bihar edition in January this year. We wanted someone to validate the numbers and to help us in understanding as to how many and which readers are reading the newspaper. Even the editorial department needs a feedback on this. For example, the study shows that we have 47% female readers, against 44% that others have. These are the insights that help in boosting the strategy. This shows that the efforts by the editorial department to make it a family paper have worked.”
So, will the publication be able to convince the agencies and advertisers about this research? He added, “Any research is indicative. When an advertiser is approached, he is going to cross check with the market through his dealers, branch offices and regional managers. He will get this validated, but it helps.”
Dainik Bhaskar operates in a lot of states in India, along with its regional language publications like Divya Marathi for Maharashtra and Divya Bhaskar for Gujarat. Having launched in Jharkhand in 2013, it established itself in the other HSM states of UP, MP, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Bihar, the publication has presence in all 38 districts with four editions and four printing centres having nine printing facilities. It claims to have almost seven lakh homes reading the newspaper in the state. While it looks like an important market for the publication, it is still substantially low in terms of adex.
Agarwaal explained the importance of Bihar and the potential that the state holds. He said, “We have invested close to Rs 100 crore in that market, which has a population of 11 crore. This is a bigger market than Rajasthan, Gujarat or MP. Adex is still low here because the potential of Bihar from advertising and purchasing perspective is lesser than the other markets. But the market has to change. In terms of ad spends, Bihar is a Rs500-crore market with 11 crore population. To put this into perspective, Rajasthan is a Rs800-crore market with 6-7 crore population. So, Bihar should at least be a Rs1000-crore market. Bihar should grow significantly in the next three to four years, along with the efforts of the state and central governments. One important lesson that I have learnt is that these markets were earlier ignored by everybody, on the pretext of focusing on the bigger markets, but these are the markets for growth.”
Interestingly, unlike the previous launches of the publication, it has not played the pricing game here. The newspaper was launched at Rs 3.50, which is what any other daily in the market was charging. It had an offer of about Rs 1,100 a year, which too wouldn’t be considered cheap. Although, the major source of revenue remains advertising for any print platform.
Speaking more about the pattern of advertising revenues, Agarwaal said, “Almost 65% of the total advertising in the Bihar editions is local advertising, vis-a-vis, 35% national advertising. It is always good to have lesser dependence on national advertisers. He/ she looks at all India and basis on that, he makes some policy changes to take a larger picture, while a retail advertiser will look only at you. He has put an ad in the morning and he needs to see the impact of that by the evening. He is not necessarily looking at brand building, but more at footfalls.”
Interestingly, Bihar and Jharkhand have the least penetration of TV, as per the latest Broadcast India study by BARC India. Agarwaal too termed Bihar as largely a media dark state, giving fewer opportunities to the advertisers to reach their TG in the state. He also explained that especially in such a market, competition grows rather than cannibalising.
He detailed further, “Bihar has another problem that it is largely a media dark state. Television has not been able to penetrate the state as well as it penetrates the rest of the country. This is why advertisers didn’t have a lot of platforms to reach these markets. What competition brings to the table is the growth of the market. We have seven lakh copies, even if 70% of this is new readership, it is still huge.”
While everyone keeps talking about the next phase of growth coming from languages and the smaller towns, the purpose of keeping this survey restricted to the urban towns with more than one lakh population was a little amiss. When asked about why not the smaller towns and villages, Agarwaal said, “Otherwise it would have become a very exhaustive and expensive research, which would have taken six to nine months to conduct. One lakh plus towns represent almost 70% of my reach, in fact all newspapers’ reach. Also, advertisers are looking majorly at this segment.”
About the results of the survey, he added, “The results of the in-depth survey by Hansa Research to gauge Dainik Bhaskar’s readership position and strengths across several important parameters in Bihar, have reiterated our strong position in Bihar, the success of our expansion strategy and the appeal of our product. In Bihar we have once again demonstrated our execution capabilities through a well-planned editorial strategy to cater to underserved readers, innovative content, impactful activations and determined efforts to strengthen circulation. We will do our best to continue to maintain this growth momentum in Bihar and make all efforts in reducing the readership gap.”