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Lokmat has made significant investments in convergence: Karun Gera

With the growing impetus of regional media in Maharashtra and evolution of media, print players like Lokmat Media have witnessed tremendous growth. Along with fortifying its circulation and readership in the Maharashtra and Goa markets, Lokmat has been carrying out various reader connect programmes. 

Through its various campaigns, especially in markets such as Pune, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, Solapur, and Mumbai Lokmat has created social campaigns as Ata Bas, Jalmitra, Sankskarache Moti (Largest School Initiative), Kahitarikar Thanekar and lots more to create noteworthy developments and recognising achievements of the state. 

A few weeks back, Lokmat held a concert where it took the actors of the movie ‘Rock On 2’ – Farhan Akhtar, Shradha Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Purab Kohli – to Aurangabad in an attempt to provide a platform to the talented youth of the city to showcase their musical talent. Its special forum for the youth – Campus Club or Yuva Nxt – has over 50,000 members with whom Lokmat connects through a series of initiatives shaping their learning, career and minds. 

In the past Lokmat had announced special opportunity for its Sakhi Manch members – Maharashtra’s largest platform for empowerment of women to meet ‘Bajirao Mastani’s cast of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in Pune and Nagpur, while over 10,000 students got the chance t interact with Varun Dhawan, John Abraham and Jacqeline Fernandes prior to ‘Dishoom’s launch in Nagpur. 

Lokmat is going to conduct Aurangabad’s first Marathon, celebrating the spirit of the city on December 11, 2016 at Garkheda Stadium, Sutgirni, Aurangabad. Lokmat aims to create this as an annual property featuring in the Marathon Calendar nationally and internationally, thus making it one of the largest events involving over 3 million people of the heritage city of Maharashtra. 

In conversation with Adgully, Karun Gera, President - Sales, Lokmat Media, talks about the media group’s strategy to further fortify their leadership status in Maharashtra and Pune. 

What are your growth plans for Lokmat Media?
Lokmat envisages its future growth coming in from three distinct buckets. First, by gaining market share in existing markets – for example, in Pune where Lokmat has displaced the incumbent and has emerged as the new No. 1 with a 10.7 lakh readership, against 9.47 lakh of the nearest competitor. Therefore, growth for Lokmat in such a market would come by providing higher reach, better cost efficiencies and strong sole readership numbers for advertisers. In this festival season, we have seen Lokmat significantly increase its market share by its closest competitor and today leads by over more than 5 percentile. 

Second is by adding and increasing its circulation with improved reach to newer demographic profiles and advertiser segments. With an increased focus on distribution and entering new households, Lokmat has been able to enter newer segments and attain leadership status across distinct demographic categories. As an example, Lokmat has improved its readership and today talks to 525,000 women readers vis-à-vis less than 4 lakh readers of the nearest competition. By doing this, Lokmat has opened up new demographic segments which the advertisers can benefit from. Similarly, Lokmat today in Pune is the choice of the next generation with more than 8 lakh readers below 40 years of age who prefer us over the competition. 

Third is through convergence – Lokmat has made significant investments in convergence and today offers more value to its advertisers with a complete integrated solution, which covers print, digital and direct to consumer media platform. The convergence solution provides a highly cost efficient and engaging dialogue between a brand and its consumers. 

In Maharashtra’s entire media market, print constitutes what part of it and what is Lokmat Media’s share of the pie?
Lokmat is the undisputed No. 1 read daily in Maharashtra and Goa and the same has been reflected in all IRS and independent researches that have been carried out. 

How is digital aiding the growth of Lokmat Media?

Convergence across print and online has helped us provide an integrated platform to our advertisers and make our news accessible to our audience across age groups and across various media platforms covering print, e-paper, online and mobile application. It offers choice, real time updates and, therefore, newer revenue streams and engagement opportunities for advertisers apart from print alone. 

Who are the advertisers on board?
Lokmat has all major categories, including FMCG, real estate, auto, e-commerce, BFSI, consumer durables, etc., using its platforms to talk to their consumers in Maharashtra. In the last couple of years, we have seen a major shift in e-commerce clients moving towards regional print as Tier 2 and 3 towns become the newer bastions of growth for them. Maharashtra today ranks amongst the top markets for e-commerce platforms and hence, we are seeing huge outlays from those clients as they move money away from the English press into regional print. 

What is the current readership and circulation of Lokmat?
Lokmat  is the largest read regional language newspaper in India with 23.5 million readers (Source: Total Readership, IRS ’12 Q4) and the No. 1 Marathi newspaper in Maharashtra and Goa states with 11 editions.  

What is the subscription and circulation revenue targeted for this financial year?
While Lokmat doesn’t publicly share its circulation and subscription revenues, however, it has seen a marked increase in its circulation revenues by double digits in the last few years. This is on the back of a very successful subscription model of over 3 lakh copies that it runs in Pune city alone. 

Please elaborate on the brand war with Sakaal Media Group and the competitors.
Lokmat doesn’t believe in wars with any competitor. We firmly believe that there is enough opportunity for every player to provide solutions basis their strengths and expertise to clients. Lokmat continues to be the No. 1 read newspaper in Maharashtra and Goa, providing the highest value in terms of its reach, response and reader centricity living true to its core values of true journalism or ‘patrakarita parmodharma’. 

Since the last credible IRS accepted by industry happened in 2012 Q4 and the next IRS result is due in mid 2017, Lokmat felt it was time that an independent third party readership survey was conducted in the Pune market. Lokmat highlighted the findings of the survey conducted by Hansa Research (the same agency which conducted IRS 2012 Q4) to educate its readers and advertisers about the shift in readership trends across Pune.

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