Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The end of tabloids as we know them, or just the end of the era of the 'flanking product'? That is the question. If you are wondering what the flanking product is, the short and rather simplistic answer is that it is a loss-leader (or in the case of Mumbai Mirror, marginally profitable) productthat is launched to suck up the advertising market from other players. And the unqualified experts at the flanking product strategy are Bennett and Living Media. Suck up adverts from your competition while your main products continue to attract the big money. Any coincidence then that Mumbai Mirror was launched around the time DNA was launched? India Today took the flanking product to another extreme, but in doing so actually managed to outflank Outlook Group pretty comprehensively.
The problem with flanking products however is during a downturn. The advertising rates are cheaper and to give the example of a magazine's popular monthly supplement, the reach in major cities at least is the case. So why advertise in the main product at all, some advertisers might argue. Well, because many people throw away the 'flanking product', but then again, many people only read the that product. So...
Problem B, which is faced by a bastard child. Well, the first problem it faces is that it is a bastard love child - you know the sort of thing that would be born if me and Rihanna (this is just an excuse for me to stick a picture of hers - much like Times puts random chicklets in its sports pages) were to spawn. Anyway, the problem is that the product was designed as a loss-leader, suck up adverts from soon to be launched competition. Yes, but newsprint costs of late-2008 changed the equation and have made that product unsustainable - much like the product it was designed to counter. So... Shut down? Well, the answer will have to be different in each of the cases mentioned above (a relaunch or a shut down or juggling advertising rates?), but 'supplements' which were a couple of years ago akin to printing wads of cash have now become horribly unprofitable. As certain industries go through trouble expect 'Response' features to take up less and less space.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So is the 'bastard child' shutting down? Bad for the friends who I know, work there.