NEW DELHI: India's newspaper industry has "years of growth" ahead of it, according to a leading industry figure who also claims the associated advertising market has the potential to triple in size.
Rajiv Kental, vice president at Hindi-language daily Amar Ujala, told the Wall Street Journal that "newspapers in India are in a sweet spot" thanks to increased literacy and an enthusiasm for local language publications outside of the major metros.
Pradeep Dwivedi, head of marketing at Dainik Bhaskar, another Hindi daily, concurred. "There has never been a better time for newspapers in India," he said. "And the potential readership is so huge that we're good for the next decade."
Since 2010, India's total daily newspaper circulation has more than doubled to over 250m, and print has maintained a 40%-plus share of total adspend while in many other countries it has been on a long-term downward trend.
And consulting firm KMPG has reported that annual ad growth at papers published in Hindi and other local Indian languages is running at double that of English-language papers.
For advertisers, the wave of readers of regional papers in local languages has created new opportunities.
Mercedes, for example, places ads in Hindi-language dailies to reach customers in cities such as Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Surat, where it has recently opened dealerships.
Eberhard Kern, head of Mercedes-Benz India, noted that there were many affluent customers living outside the tier one cities. "We believe they will be the engines of growth for the brand in the foreseeable future," he said.
And advertising is sometimes coming from an unlikely direction, with ecommerce businesses turning to print to lift their profile among small-town and rural customers who may lack reliable internet access.
"They still see print as a huge driver of awareness, even though their customers are by definition digital," said Nic Dawes, chief content officer at Hindustan Times.
Data from Warc's latest International Ad Forecast show that advertising spend on Indian newspapers is likely to grow at an average rate of 11.2% this year and next.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff