Jagran : newspaper distribution in the pandemic

Newspapers collaborate to strengthen distribution in pandemic 

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Newspaper hawkers/Jagran : newspaper
Newspaper hawkers during the pandemic

The Covid-19 induced lockdown has severely impacted India’s newspaper industry primarily due to the disruption in distribution and logistics challenges and the steep drop in advertising in the April to June quarter. Although circulations have improved in recent weeks, they are still significantly down from pre-lockdown levels. However, some newspapers like Jagran utilized the pandemic to innovate on the logistics front and look for new opportunities.

According to Deepak Pandey, senior vice president, Jagran said that the newspaper collaborated with other newspapers such as Amar UjalaThe HinduTimes of India, and Hindustan Times and formed a group to share knowledge during the lockdown. The news publishers shared market intelligence, made joint strategies, and shared costs, and best practices from markets.

“We realized that everybody was doing their own thing, which did not lead us anywhere. So we came together to drive a common strategy into the market,” Pandey said during the WanIfra India 2020 Printing eSummit.

Distribution has been gaining in importance as the news publishers try to ensure the last mile reach of their dailies on time. Pandey stated that even when the essential goods supply chains collapsed, newspaper distribution was not interrupted for even a single day despite the reduced circulation volume. “The pandemic has made us realize that logistics is the backbone of the newspaper business,” he added.

Teaming up with leading publishers helped reduce costs. For instance, they shared sanitation stations that other publishers could effectively use instead of each setting up their own. Also, since the publishers were open to sharing their market intelligence and best practices transparently, joint campaigns were organized collaboratively. Sharing taxis for shipping to the smaller cities and towns from the printing plants reduced costs by as much as 30%, and they were able to make this happen within the first 15 days of the lockdown coming into effect.

When the Coronavirus spread led to the closing down of a printing plant of one of the dailies, Dainik Jagran stepped in with a quick turnaround time of 1 to 2 hours helping it continue to print until the plant was reopened. There were also instances when to control several dailies’ printing costs, the entire printing was carried at the Jagran plant.

New marketing opportunities to reader households

The Jagran group also collaborated with non-newspaper companies to help them in their supply chain decision making. Jagran’s team helped a blue-chip consumer product company identify its distribution channel issues and provided field-level workforce and resources in support.

“We used our vendors and even our personnel to deliver their products directly to the customers’ homes. This helped the company reduce intermediaries and go deeper into their existing markets and enter new locations. We also engaged in brand and promotional activities on their behalf,” Pandey said.

According to Pandey, this collaboration is beneficial to both the consumer goods producer and the publisher if it is seen as a new business opportunity to get better ROI from the same household and increase income in difficult times. “Jagran has a new revenue model and a new learning curve. We are leveraging our distribution strength and creating a positive trade perception,” he said.

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.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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