In digital vs print war, regional is a clear winner

Despite the growth of alternative media like TV, radio and internet over the last three decades, print continues to dominate the total ad spend of advertisers. But unlike mainstream print, regional print has now become the backbone of advertising driven by higher economic growth and under-penetration of products and services in Tier II and Tier III cities, a new report by brokerage Anand Rathi points out.

 In digital vs print war, regional is a clear winner


This is because metros and cities are now witnessing intense competition as readers are constantly consuming news on the digital medium - mobile phones, tablets and laptops butTier II and III cities are offering sustainable avenues of growth and market expansion for most corporates.

"Print media's widespread appeal, high penetration,niche/localized positioning and contained impact from rising internetpenetration, has enabled regional players to increase their share in advertisers'total newspaper ad spend from 50% in 2007 to 60% in 2012," says the report.

Take a look at these stats:

Between calender year 2007 and 2012, regional print advertising registered a 14.3% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) against 6.4% for English print and 11% for overall print. In fact adrates in English print are now only six times of that in regional print versus nine times five years back in those regions.

And after having declined for six successive quarters, advertising revenue growth of Hindi print-media companies improved to 10% year-on-year in the third quarter of financial year 2013.

Source: IRS, FICCI-KPMG, Anand Rathi Research

Source: IRS, FICCI-KPMG, Anand Rathi Research

The logic is simple.

English print media is largely concentrated in metros and tier-I cities, but markets outside these are largely catered to by the regional print media. Besides, the penetration of digital media in these markets is lower here due to inadequate infrastructure (devices, networks) and the language barrier. (digital media continues to be largely English centric). And since GDP growth in key regional print markets is higher than the national average, regional print mediais surely an attractive play at the moment.

So unlike regional print, digital media poses a higher risk for English print because of the imminent increase in broadband penetration in urban areas and a higher socio-economic strata of English readers, which makes it more affordable for them to switch to the internet.

Internet penetration is very low in rural areas: Source Source: FICCI-KPMG Media Industry Report 2013

Internet penetration is very low in rural areas: Source Source: FICCI-KPMG Media Industry Report 2013

Hindi speaking states offer potential to increase readership given low readership among literates

The 2012 Indian readership survey (IRS) estimates that 44% of India's literate population does not read any publication. This translates to significant potential for growth in readership, considering India has a 895 million literate population. And under-penetration of readership habits is more evident in states that are catered to by regional print media. So if one were to increase this reach, the impact of digital media is bound to be mitigated, especially in regional markets.

In the Hindi belt, the combined population/GDP ofstate going to elections would be 0.28bn/`18trn in FY14-15. Besides, the general elections would span across population/GDP base of 1.2bn/Rs82trn.

In the Hindi belt, the combined population/GDP of state going to elections would be 0.28bn/Rs 18trn in FY14-15. Besides, thegeneral elections would span across population/GDP base of

Elections in several key states and general elections are slated to take place in FY14 and FY15 and this generally aids print media as it promises more political advertising, announcements, higher readership and better engagement of readers.

Regional markets have been growing faster than metro-focused-English markets, driven by increased penetration of consumer products/branded goodsin tier 2/3 cities

Moreover, there has been some shiftin advertising from TV to the print segment, as advertiserssuch as autos, consumer durables, lifestyle have shifted from shift from brandadvertisements to those focused on discounts and promotions, a trendtypical in challenging macro-economic environment

Add to that waning competition.

"In the key Hindi print markets of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, competition peaked in 2010 and 2011. These markets account for 61% of the combined gross state domestic product (GSDP) of states in the Hindi belt. The challenging macroeconomic environment has checked aggressive expansion/circulation strategies of the challengers and has blunted competitive intensity," says Yogesh Kirve, media analyst at Anand Rathi.

Easing competiton clearly augurs well for local players like DB Corp and Jagran Prakash as they would benefit in their key markets of MP, Rajasthan, Punjab and UP by rationalising circulation strategies and raising cover prices.

" Circulation revenues are now set to grow faster than advertising for Hindi print companies in FY13. Thereis headroom for regional print companies to raise realizationsmaterially, due to customer stickiness and rising prosperity regionally.However, companies are likely to use their new-found pricing powerjudiciously as they balance considerations of profitability and growth," says Kirve.

Net result?

With metros already being saturated, regional markets now provide ample scope for growth in the media sector asTier II and III cities and towns are set to drive the Indian consumption story in the next few years.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 22:10:34 IST