Indian newspapers will need to customize their offerings

Indian newspapers will need to customize their offerings
Pradeep Shah

The capex in the newspaper industry is not expected to be good this year as newspaper publishers grapple with declining readership and shrinking margins, feels Pradeep Shah, managing director, Manugraph.

“It is not going to be a good year for the manufacturing segment linked to the newspaper industry,” he says.

Although demonetization and GST did not have any major impact on Manugraph’s operations, the company’s union has been on a strike for more than a month and Shah says that most of Manugraph’s customers have been considerate of the company’s position.

“The union’s demand is unreasonable. We will wait for a while but we are hopeful to solve it. It’s not like we want the strike to continue but we have to look at the numbers, the viability. So, we feel whatever we have offered the union based on our current financial position is sensible,” Shah says.

Talking about the orders, he says the company has orders for the next six months.

Customization is the key
India’s under-30 age group is consuming news mostly on the digital platform. One of the most striking features of digital format is the endless possibility of customization it offers to news readers. If someone wants to read only politics or sport or business or Bollywood, he or she has the freedom to access only that section and not go for the entire newspaper. According to Shah, this is what the traditional newspapers should also strive to do.

“Every newspaper should have five or six sections with readers looking to buy sections. Newspaper will have to be created in such a way that you can customize according to the demand of the reader. This trend is already popular on digital platform and could also happen with physical newspapers,” Shah argues.

He also says that at some stage almost all newspapers will shrink in size as it is easier to read. “Logically this what it should be, six columns.”

Foray into packaging solutions
Manugraph will launch the complete business vision about its CI flexo press manufacturing at Plastvision 2018 to be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The company has tied up with Italy’s C&C Flexo (Carraro) to commence the manufacturing of CI Flexo machine at its Kolhapur facility.

“There is no detailed marketing plan drawn out yet but people have been hired. Our Kolhapur division needs to now gear up. We have a huge market that we want to attack, both in India and overseas. There is a potential in all the markets that Manugraph is currently present in,” Shah says.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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