Regional Sections and Brand Strategy

Alan Renwick and Mike Jeanes assess the growth of sections in the regional press, and discuss the implications for brand strategy and research

Daily newspapers have always been unusual brands. Almost fmcgs (mass market, low price, impulse purchase), yet different from a bag of crisps, in that they have to be completely redesigned and reconstructed from scratch every day. It gets worse. Fmcg-style marketing is fine for selling newspapers to consumers, but send your ad sales team out with that mindset and you are in trouble; instead, you are offering a high-cost business proposition.

The bad news for simplicity (but good news for publishers, readers and advertisers) is that the new, technology-driven wave in publishing is making the newspaper brand even more complex. This new wave has been most obviously manifested in the explosion of sections published by the national press, and in the ongoing debate about the measurement of readership of these sections fought out in the pages of the trade press. However they are researched, it is clear that sections, whether pull-out newsprint, reviews or glossy magazines, have given added value to the reader, opened new opportunities for advertisers, and helped publishers keep their titles afloat in a sea of new, competitive media. So most nationals now have a Saturday brand which is quite different from Monday to Friday and, within each daily edition, a number of sub-brands.

Complicating the product, strengthening the brand