Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Catching Them Young With The Hindu

Back in August, my kids told their mother that, a newspaper will be given to them daily in their school. Mahiba did not show much interest.

Later Rayyan told that the principal was listing names of students who will take the newspaper. Rayyan said he told the principal that his mother will decide and inform. The principal knows both Ruwayda and Rayyan well. She said that she will write Rayyan’s name in her list and talk to his mother.

Before the principal called, Mahiba phoned her. The principal informed that The Hindu newspaper would be given to students. The cost will be Rs 150 for a year. The amount can be paid in three instalments. Mahiba did not confirm on the phone.

Even then, the principal assumed that we will be interested and went ahead with the subscription. Because, on Saturday, 1st September Rayyan brought home the first copy of his newspaper.

I looked at it and on the right side was a phrase The Hindu In School. I googled and found that the school edition of The Hindu was launched in April itself across nine cities. Oh my sweet graciousness, how did I miss it?

Reading the coverage about the launch in The Hindu is quite good. The statements made at various launches will warm the cockles of one’s heart. Those statements express how reading the daily will be beneficial.

I asked Rayyan, why he wants to read the paper. To improve my English he said. I can’t think of a better way for my son. This is your need and you have a powerful tool with you, I thought. Needs affect consumer behaviour. That brings marketing strategy into the picture.

So far as marketing ideas go, this took my breath away. Catch them young, a splendid strategy! Rayyan is in fourth class, the younger the better. The brain behind this initiative is Siddharth Varadarajan.

Mr. Varadarajan is the first person outside the founding family of The Hindu to be given the job of the editor. He studied at the London School of Economics and Oxford University and taught economics at New York University. He worked at the Times of India.

Here’s the reportage about what Mr. Varadarajan said at the Chennai launch: “there was a need to tailor-make the newspaper as a pedagogical tool. Referring to the target audience as students at the cusp of adulthood, he said: ‘Before the pressure of board exams bogs them down, we thought children from class VII upward needed a paper that appeals to them.’ The paper would have the same standards and reliability that The Hindu is known for, he added.

Speaking on the competition that newspapers face from other sources of information, Mr. Varadarajan said the challenge here was to cater to the tastes of young readers. ‘The student edition will set a new benchmark for the newspaper reading habit in the country,’ he added.”

Teens and pre-teens form a substantial and attractive market. Not only do they themselves spend a lot of money, at least in the urban areas, but they also influence purchasing decisions in the family. School kids are relatively a homogeneous market segment and the initiatives to expand into this segment will be clear to identify and the results measurable and concrete.

Methinks that the one rupee per copy they charge is not revenue from sales. In fact it is advance revenue from market development itself. The real sales will be when the kids grow up and have their own spending power.

Which brings my perspective on this, since I am already in that spending segment. In the last few years, I have been reading The New Indian Express. True Indians read The Indian Express is my byline for it (in my imagination of course). When I was about Rayyan’s age we didn’t buy a daily newspaper. I cried a lot that we should be buying one. My father agreed and decided that it would be The Hindu.

I grew up reading the Mahavishnu of Mount Road. It was part of my growing, an essential part of my nurture. There are some traditions that are handed over from one generation to another. Starting the newspaper habit with The Hindu was one and I should have done it.

Though I missed that chance, things have come full circle. Fortune had it better, through the school campaign and it has been taken care of on my behalf. I was more than glad to hand the hundred and fifty rupees over to Rayyan.

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