Jaldi 5 with Alok Sanwal: There’s much acceptance of i-next now

16 Jan,2013

By Tuhina Anand


Alok Sanwal, the CEO and Editor at Jagran Prakashan Ltd has been spearheading a publication that has been targeting youth in mini-metros. For i-next, the journey has been that of discovering a new niche all together with immense potential. Mr Sanwal discusses the journey taken and the way ahead.


01. How do you see i-next positioned among number of titles and how has it evolved over the years?

We are very specific in targeting our audience and have a demographically, geographically defined TG of 15-35 age group from mini metros lying in the upper middle socio-economic strata. This has somewhat ensured that there is only sporadic congruence of audience for i-next and other titles in the region. The narrowly defined TG of i-next gives it a chunk of unique and loyal readers. We are comfortably placed both in terms of numbers and revenues. Over the years, our biggest strength has been to know our limitations. As a compact daily, the space crunch is always there; coupled with the fact that it is still a very nascent brand, i-next’s unique, youthful imagery remains our key asset. Our evolution has been firmer, clearer and we are far more focused on our core brand promise and are now more in line with the changing youth sensibilities.


02. It’s been doing well so far… so why the revamp?

Firstly, a lot has changed around us in the past 5-6 years. When i-next was launched in 2006, the social networking scenario was not a hot cake. Orkut was an infant. My Space was there, but nobody really heard about it. But soon everyone was ‘Facebooked’ and ‘Twittered’. In 2009, we got a survey through IMRB for insights into launching a website for the newspaper and we realized that even in tier 2 metros the digital era was on. Besides social media networking, youth today use it for all sort of things like iTunes, mp3 players, games apps and product & services purchases. The digital era had stuck which is now in its prime. The changes had to be incorporated to address the digital dimension of youth. For example, a page specially dedicated to youth gadgets (‘tech it easy’) has been added to i-next.


The second trigger was an urgent necessity for an extremely clean design with lot of white space. i-next now has a new aerodynamic logo, which reflects the dynamism and energy of youth and a new masthead. The paper design was digitally synchronized. The changed folio has picked up page links of web pages and tweets are shared in widget form. A lot of re-alignment of fonts was also done to make the Hindi English text integration more seamless.


03. Going ahead, what should we expect from i-next in terms of content, circulation and marketing?

We have always strived to achieve international standards of excellence across every department. Dailies like Le Monde and Gazetta inspire us to set new industry benchmarks. i-next has a very focussed content branding and all our subsequent product extensions will centre around the unique brand core that i next has. Content shall continue to be more interactive, more engaging. Our editorial colleagues are trained to be more of curators of the news rather than the editors, thus channelizing better, the depth and breadth of the news pool. In circulation, new initiatives will be taken, many of them industry first. New reader loyalty schemes shall be floated soon, working on our clearly defined TG. More emphasis shall be laid on brand positioning and bigger activations modules shall be worked out and at least 3-4 big ticket activations shall run throughout the year, some of which, in these markets, have already become more or less synonymous with i next.


04. What has been the response of advertisers to the improved i-next?

The response from advertisers has been extremely encouraging. Everybody likes it and clients are specifically asking for i-next from amongst all other group publications from Jagran. Last year too was very good and we have grown by 52 percent in advertising revenue in the cities having i-next editions. There is a much greater acceptance of the product now and for majority of local clients i-next is part of their core print media vehicles.


05. Can you talk of two initiatives that did well for i-next last year and which you want to take forward this year?

Basically we are in entertainment and information arena. Last year we had witnessed a very successful launch of inextlive.com, the digital arm of i-next through iktara, a unique online folk singing contest. The enthusiasm shown by the audience has encouraged us to come up with it season-2, slated for later this year. In education, we organized a mega engineering aptitude seminar in association with one of the leading technical universities of India. It was a major success for us both in terms of revenues, as well as brand positioning. We are already looking for more such initiatives in future.


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