Marketing Strategies of Newspapers Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 December 2016

Marketing Strategies of Newspapers

The newspaper market, like other markets have become competitive to the extent that survival requires a lot of creativity and innovation in the way the business is conducted. This is the situation in which the three major newspapers on the Zambian market, i.e the Post, the Times of Zambia, and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers find themselves.

Currently, the Post newspaper is the market leader with a market share of eighty percent (80%), the Times of Zambia newspaper and the Zambia Daily Mail, together with the rest of the other newspapers share the remaining twenty percent (20%). For this study, the focus is on three newspapers, The Post which is a privately owned newspaper and the Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail which are stated owned newspapers. The difference in performance amongst these three newspapers has also been reflected in the differences in the readership of the three (3) newspapers which is indicated below.

Source: Synovate Research Center 2005 For any of these papers to gain competitive advantage and long term profitability, there is need to come up with a proper business approach. One such approach is a proper understanding and management of the common business parameters like the quality of the product, the pricing of the product, the distribution of the product, and the promotion of the product. A newspaper firm can then formulate appropriate differentiation strategies based on the above parameters which are commonly known as the four ‘Ps’ of the marketing mix (Kotler, 2003:15).

The discrepancies in the market share prompted the researcher to look at the business management aspect of the three newspapers, they were applying and using the four ‘Ps’ of the marketing mix. The aim was to determine how the three newspapers were utilizing the elements of the marketing mix in order to gain competitive advantage on the Zambian market. Essentially, this is a comparative study which looks into how the three newspapers were utilizing the marketing mix to increase their market shares.

The study was expected to reveal the differences in the usage of the marketing mix and show whether this had a significant impact on the market shares of the three papers. This is not withstanding the fact that the performance of an entity is dependent on the various functional areas of business management. However, in this particular case, what was being put to test was the functional area of marketing, and in this case the application of the elements of the marketing mix.

The liberalization of the Zambian economy in 1991 saw the emergence of various entities on the Zambian market. This included the print media. The Post newspaper is one such paper that emerged as a private owned newspaper.

Prior to 1991, there were mainly two dominant papers, i.e. the Times of Zambia, and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers. For this study, the focus was on one private newspaper, i.e the Post newspaper, and the state owned newspapers, i.e. The Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers. Currently, on the Zambian market, the Post newspaper is the market leader with a market share of eighty (80%) percent by far surpassing the Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail which fall into the remaining twenty (20%) percent. This poses the question of why should a newly born newspaper, i.e the Post Newspaper, out match the old newspapers like the Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers. Obviously, the market share has to do with the acceptability of the paper. And from a business management point of view, this acceptability is dependent on the paper’s marketing strategies which are based on the marketing mix. Hence the reason for the research in this area.

The history of each of the above stated newspapers is as follows:

•The Times of Zambia newspaper

The Times of Zambia is a national daily newspaper published in Zambia. During the colonial period this newspaper was known as The Northern News. It was founded in 1944 as a twice-weekly newspaper aimed at a European readership, owned first by Roy Welensky and then by the South African newspaper chain Argus. Argus then sold the paper to Lonhro, under which it was renamed the Times of Zambia on 1 July 1965. Lonhro had just bought out Heinrich Brewery which had briefly operated a daily, The Zambia Times and weekly Zambia News.

Criticism of the government under the editorship of Dunston Kamana in the early 1970s and the change of the government to a one party state led to the purchase of Times of Zambia by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) government who then appointed its own editor, Vernon Mwaanga, in 1972. When the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) came to power in November 1991, it went to court claiming UNIP had illegally taken over the newspapers. The courts found in favour of the MMD, and ruled that the papers’ ownership be transferred to the Zambian Government. The Times of Zambia is now owned by the Zambian Government.

After the independence of Zambia in 1964, the print media was run by the private sector with Times of Zambia then been published by Lonrho and the name Daily then Central African Mail was run by Scott and Astor. In 1969 it was purchased by the ruling United National Party (UNIP) (Banda, 2004). In 1983, the newspaper industries along with most other industries were nationalized as part of government’s humanism. The two newspapers were then turned into government companies and heavily subsidized by the government.

In 1990, there was the introduction of multiparty government and an open, market –driven economy. Privately owned newspapers were reintroduced and according to the National Archives (2003) 137 publications, both newspapers and magazines, were registered between 1991 and 2002. Most of the registered newspapers were either aborted or died soon after the first few issues. The cover price of the newspapers has remained the same in Zambia at K3000.00 with new newspapers coming in and offering a lower price and then failing to survive all together. The other sources of income for newspapers are through the advertising which has grown with newspapers getting more and more expensive.

This case research is intended at studying the various marketing strategies used by newspaper companies in Zambia and how they can increase competiveness. My aim is to find out the current marketing strategies of the major newspapers in Zambia, namely The Post, Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, The Guardian and The Mirror. The purpose of the study is to understand the current marketing strategies and come up with recommendations to increase competitiveness in this sector.

1.2 Background to the study After the introduction of the multi-party system and the subsequent liberalization of the economy, in Zambia, in 1991, the country saw the emergence of various types of privately owned newspapers in addition to the two regular newspapers, i.e The Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail. In all, the mid 1990s, there were several privately owned newspapers in addition to the two regular state owned newspapers stated above.

What transpired is that some private newspapers came and went, whilst the two state owned newspapers have failed to be competitive and increase their market shares, but they have survived through Government subsidies. However, one privately owned newspaper, the Post Newspaper, has continued to grow its market share and today it is the market leader in its relevant market. The question of interest to the researcher is to determine the type and effectiveness of the marketing strategies that the Newspapers are using to increase their market share in the relevant markets.

1.3 Research Problem Since the Liberalization of Zambia’s economy in 1991, several private newspapers have emerged to join the already existing state owned ones. However, most of the privately owned newspapers have collapsed, and the two state owned ones are failing to increase their market, but are surviving on Government subsidies. But one private newspaper, the Post, has continued to thrive to become the market leader. There is still very little competition in this industry with only a few as newspapers surviving and one major newspaper The Post is getting 80% of the market share (Banda 2004). Given this background, the researcher wants to determine the type of marketing strategies newspapers use, and the extent to which these marketing strategies are effective. Consequently, this will help the managements of the newspapers to improve their marketing strategies so as to provide quality services to their customers, and thereby increase their market share and competitiveness.

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