Thursday, February 20, 2014

It’s all about a closer engagement with the reader

Ananda Vikatan, Junior Vikatan and Aval Vikatan are household names in Tamil Nadu. Chances are you will find a copy of one of these magazines or all three of them or perhaps even some of the others in the Vikatan Group bouquet when you visit any Tamil-speaking home.

How has Ananda Vikatan endeared itself to readers for close to nine decades? I found myself asking this question many times while drafting the questionnaire for B. Srinivasan, the Vikatan Group MD, grandson of the legendary S.S. Vasan who started Vikatan. A few days ahead of the deadline for one of the journals of the Press Institute of India where the interview was to appear, I received an email from Pravin Menon, national head, Marketing, Vikatan Group (who facilitated the interview), carrying an attachment that had Srinivasan’s answers.

Probably Srinivasn couldn't find the time to meet me, or perhaps he is a private sort of person who likes to keep a safe distance away from a nosey journalist. In any case, it didn’t matter at all. For, what came out clearly in the Q&A was Srinivasan’s thorough understanding of the readership today. Far better, I thought, than the understanding of some of the regulars we see on television channels or at seminars in five-star hotels.

While talking about the past and the present, Srinivasan also enunciated his vision of the future. The Vikatan Group’s philosophy is fairly simple: the customer is King and if you deliver value and happiness to him/ her, he/ she will pay. It is this philosophy that spawned titles such as Chutti, Naanayam, Motor, Pasumai and others in the 12-magazine bouquet.

Srinivasan says television and the Internet boom has only helped the Group adapt better and get Brand Vikatan more easily on to a worldwide stage. Vikatan.com receives close to a million page views a day. The Group has extended its digital reach with apps for iOS and Android and amassed more than a million likes/followers/subscribers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

As the Vikatan Group is set to enter its 90th year, many readers will fondly remember the great contribution made by Srinivasan’s father, S. Balasubramanian, who was editor, managing director and publisher of Ananda Vikatan for nearly 50 years till 2006 (he is now the chairman), and who founded  Junior Vikatan. Truly, it’s been quite a magical journey for a publication house.


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