NEWSPAPER10•PRINTED ON MONDI ENVIROTEXT 60
A day in the life of a South African newspaper
Over the last few years, local townships and small towns have grown andevolved are viable markets for newspapers. The booming growth of shop-ping malls in the townships, for example, paved the way for free commu-nity newspapers in these regions. Meanwhile, the rising tabloids, such asthe
, are creating new readerships where previously there may nothave been any. The emerging market holds great potential. “Newspaperreadership in the emerging market (LSM 4-7) has ballooned over the pastsix years. The tabloid press, led by the
, is single-handedlyresponsible for bringing the masses into the newspaper readership fold. Asthis market continues to grow and change, new gaps and submarkets willemerge over time,” says Fergus Sampson, CEO: Emerging Markets, Media24.Consider, for example, that the
’s readership used to be a town-ship LSM market, but today, it captures upper LSM black readers. “Themiddle class will grow and spread. There is the notion that the suburbs andthe informal settlements will dissipate. But I believe that we will seegrowth in the townships and the suburbs,” says Francois Groepe, CEO,Media24.However, before this market can be served efficiently, says ChantelErfort, editor, Cape Community Newspapers, media owners need torealise that township and rural markets are not homogeneous and contentshould be diversified to tap into this.“Developing areas – and the developing world – are all experiencing anupswing in newspaper consumption, and there is potential for this tocontinue in township areas, but only if we discard our common perceptionsof what ‘typical township’ readers want. There is no typical,” says Erfort.Ferial Haffajee, editor,
Mail & Guardian
, also believes that segmentationof these markets is better done along LSM lines, categorising them intoquality/tabloid or niche/mass newspapering. “I don’t buy into the townshipversus town/black and white models of newspapering because myexperience on the
Mail & Guardian
has shown that there is more that unitesthan divides,” she says.And while there is still a lot of growth in metropolitan areas, newspaperswill grow in the developing markets in the coming months and createopportunities for previously untapped advertisers.Lucille van Niekerk, independent media consultant, believes that someregions of the country want more technology (cellphone and mobileadvertising, websites, and so on) and newspapers are in the perfect positionto drive news consumption via new media and technology platforms.“Newspapers need to do better; they need to observe readership trends andfind areas that are under-marketed. The farmers on the platteland, forexample, have been forgotten by the city media. There are opportunitieshere,” she says.
Emerging markets want newspapers
should be: if you miss us, you missout,” says Haffajee.Newspapers serving the nichemarkets (such as the gay market) areupping their game too. Gary de Klerk,editor of
The Pink Tongue
, says theeconomic downturn should be a timewhen advertisers rethink where andhow they spend their money. “Now isthe time for the gay media toapproach clients affected by thedownturn, because although the gaycommunity also feels the economicpinch, it is a community that subscribesto a more luxurious lifestyle becauseof the disposable income factor thatstems from not having kids. Whenthere is a gay couple that pools itsincomes, you’re looking at anotherpotential market. The gay media needsto find a way to communicate this toadvertisers effectively,” he says.Black diamonds and unmarriedyuppies, for example, may also repre-sent viable niche markets. And, as duPlessis points out, the simple act of delivering to homes may be the keyfor newspapers looking to reachthese niches. The
recentlytook over the
, and duPlessis has high hopes for this paperbecause it is delivered to the homes of readers. “Home delivery is still a rev-olution in the townships. This meansthere are huge opportunities forbrands to do sampling campaigns viathe Sunday papers.”Look out for clever distributionsystems as newspapers seek out newways to become more easily accessi-ble to readers, especially in light of subscription losses. “We might seesubscriptions drop, but we expectstreet and agency sales to grow,” saysRheeder. Subscribers are a loyal mar-ket but innovations are being evolvedin street sales to grow this sector.The plus side of the downturn is thefact that it will shake out the industry’sweaker players. Experts believe we willsee consolidations and closures as aresult. But publishers will also bemore cautious as far as their invest-ments in new markets are concerned.Expect greater creativity in terms of what’s on offer to readers and advertis-ers. “There will be pressure on news-papers to sharpen up. So I don’t expectthat it will be business as usual, but thisgets the creative juices flowing andforces us to look for new opportuni-ties. The biggest threat to newspapersnow is complacency – we can’t affordit! Newspapers must see everything asa threat. The good news for newspa-pers is that readers are not readingnewspapers differently, in the way thatTV audiences are watching TVdifferently. But newspapers need to getto the reader directly whether onlineor via cellphones,” says Rheeder.Yet across the board, publishers areadamant that they will not compro-mise their products. While they willconsider creative innovations to theirprint products and advertising solu-tions, they will only consider thosethat build their brands, rather thancompromise the quality and integrityof their newspapers.“Newspapers need to deliver qual-ity readers to advertisers,” saysGroepe. The emphasis is firmly oncreating a future for newspapers thatare measurable. “There are manyother value-added ideas that willwork for newspapers,” says Sampson.“It is my view the purpose of value-added promotions is to encourageproduct sampling and ultimatelyrepeat consumption. The actual edi-torial product is the only and finalmeasure of success or failure. Noamount of value-added promotionswill ever replace the appeal of acredible, relevant and well-targetedpublication,” he says. What’s more,these value-added- initiatives shouldoccur in concert with a focus on theeditorial product offering. Du Plessissays that since newspapers remain theprimary window to the outside worldfor many South Africans, easily acces-sible, affordable and widely availablenewspapers are very well positionedto fulfil the need for information toguide everyday decision-making.Abroad, newspapers are facing seri-ous setbacks and losses. Locally, thenewspaper category is still vibrant. “Idon’t think newspapers are doomed.They need to change though, we allknow that. More analysis and lessnews, I suppose,” says Peter Bruce,editor,
.Experts believe that, until Internetpenetration is significantly higher,local newspapersare not threatenedby the pull of free news online. AsGeoff Cohen, General Manager:News24, says, SouthAfrica is an inter-esting case. “I think that the SouthAfrican market has been insulatedfrom a digital perspective. Local pub-lishers haven’t felt the full effect of market dilution that stems fromincreased digital activity.” Instead, thecirculation fluctuations are attributa-ble in large part to the economic con-ditions, though less so for emergingmarket newspapers. When the Internetdoes become a mass medium in SA,the pressure will be on newspapers toreach the top of the search enginerankings. And those newspapers thatare not investing in development of these digital platforms now, especiallyto grow their understanding of howusers interact with online content,may be left behind.
Gill RandallGill Randall
continued from page 1
Page 3 Girl:Page 3 Girl:
Gill Randall, joint MD,Newspaper AdvertisingBureau (NAB)
A recent study carried out by African Response and SAARF AMPS found thatthe average newspaper passes from the hands of the seller to a whole series of readers. The average township dweller will buy their newspaper from a streetvendor on their way to work; they read their paper while commuting or dur-ing their lunch break. Then it is passed from one colleague to the next untilthe original buyer leaves work and takes their paper home with them.The study found that the course of most newspapers is assisted by a link of different social groups and communities, and that many black South Africansare buying the newspaper, but are not buying all the newspapers they read.This demonstrates how readership has increased without a correspondingincrease in circulation figures.Plus, many newspapers end up serving functional purposes in the home.The study also found that varied content and hyper-local neighbourhoodnews drives an increase in readership (community newspapers have got thisright). “Relevance, relevance, relevance. One of the compliments which stoodout was that they are enjoying the community updates instead of the usualnational and international news, which is not as ‘close to home,” says AninaMaree, director, African Response.Likewise, newspapers have become more accessible through sales at taxiranks and stations. This convenience is also driving readership. “Marketersneed to focus on accessibility, relevance and variety. But keep in mind thatthere is no one magic recipe that works for all South African readers, we real-ly have such a diverse market. Marketers need to gain insight into the specif-ic target audience of their newspaper and not just readers in general. This willgo hand in hand with their distribution strategy. Our younger upwardlymobile markets move around and change address so home delivery may notwork as well for them as it would for the older and more settled reader forexample,” says Maree.