Buying vs Selling

This morning I was riding down a road leading to Valluvar kottam and saw a few shops that were selling newspapers and magazines besides other things.

a picture of a news stand displaying the papers

And one thing stood out amidst all this din!

There were posters of all the tamil dailies and some mags, all trying to call out to the readers with their sensational news!! It would either be a speculation of a split in a party (followed by a very small ?) that would go largely unnoticed or about the demise of a popular actor/actress but the intention is to get the guy on the street to buy the magazine or daily.  It is a different matter altogether that the daily when opened will contain the interview of a little known party leader where he would talk about an imminent split in a major party after the elections! The actress who died was popular perhaps in some other state or in some other time period in tamil nadu!

Conspicuous by their absence are the posters of english dailies especially The  Hindu.  Even the ones from Deccan Chronicle or Times of India, when displayed were not prominent or were more matter of fact, than shouting sensationalism.

And that set me thinking!!

It is not that only tamil dailies face the competition and hence need to outsell each other by way of stand sales.  With the arrival of ToI and a spate of offers including price cuts, there is intense rivalry amongst the english dailies too.  Even the financial daily scene is crowded with Business Line, Economic Times, Financial Standard etc but we do not see this kind of aggression.  So, it is not competition per se!!

Is it the profile of the reader that makes this difference?  Possibly but not conclusively.  If we just take a look at the english TV channels, they are as much thriving on aggressive sensationalism as the tamil news channels and the reason for that is that the viewers are looking for that kind of exhibitionism.  It is quite unlikely that people have different preferences for reading and altogether different expectations for viewing!!

In my opinion, the English dailies have a clear defined set of audiences and readership and is largely driven by a habit than by whims and fancies.  Further, their newsstand sales may not be as high as the ones delivered to the doorsteps of their readers and hence they do  not focus on that.

More importantly, they are more interested in retaining their core audiences than attract new readers by diluting their stand (if they have one) and hence are extremely careful about trying different formats.

The Tamil dialies on the other hand (atleast in Chennai) perhaps see a larger portion of their circulation coming from the news stands than regular subscribers and this segment is perhaps not so brand specific but go by the cover than by the contents per se.  And this segment must be substantial that all of them invest in such posters to be displayed at each outlet and get the readers’ attention.  So they have to live by the day because the person who bought their paper yesterday will ask for another brand if their poster is not so attractive!!

Well, what do you think?


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