The Guardian is widely reputed for its commitment to quality journalism and that is one reason why it is one of the most modern and colourful newspapers in the country. It also has a massive online presence which makes it easier for them to reach out to readers and advertisers.
The Guardian's policy is to offer an independent point of view which borders on sceptical but is not cynical. The Scott Trust which owns the Guardian, pumps in a large amount of money every year to make sure that the Guardian retains its independent voice. The Guardian is one of the rare newspapers which are not owned by a multinational corporation. One of the advantages of being owned by a Trust is that journalistic integrity is maintained as Guardian Journalists are allowed to present the truth as they see it. The Guardian is also not affiliated to any political party and has maintained its position as a leftist socialist newspaper.
Background Information about the Guardian
The Guardian was set up in 1821 where it was then known as the Manchester Guardian. It was set up by John Edward Taylor as a weekly newspaper with a liberal agenda. It first came out on Saturday May 5 1821, priced at 7d with a Circulation of 1,000 in the first year. The Guardian came into its own when CP Scott joined the paper as an editor at the young age of 26 in 1872. He was the longest serving editor in the paper and made the paper a world famous name to be reckoned with. Scott bought the paper from the owner and established the roots of its independence. JR Scott(The son of CP Scott) formed the Scott Trust to ensure that the Guardian was run as a completely independent newspaper. The Guardian got its name when it reverted from the Manchester Guardian to the Guardian.
The Guardian made a big change in 1988 when it changed its masthead and re-launched in the Berliner Format. They made their debut on the internet with their website Guardian Online in 1999. The Guardian also launched a digital version of its newspaper in 2004.
This assignment involves taking an in-depth look at one of the national newspapers: The Guardian. I chose the Guardian as it is one of the leading independent newspapers in the country. My research involved checking out various case studies, circulation figures and the current state of the newspaper market in the country. I managed to get a lot of interesting facts and figures which I have managed to compile as a report.
The process which involves an organization capitalising on a process to increase its sales and compete is known as a marketing strategy. In order to adopt a successful marketing strategy a company needs to focus on customer satisfaction. This is a combination of targeting markets and a selection of marketing mixes.
The UK newspaper industry is large in size as there are a lot of newspapers which are published every day. These newspapers compete with each other in order to get a share of the market. The Guardian competes with newspapers such as the Times, Financial Times, Telegraph and the Independent. The Guardian has around 14.25 percent of the daily press circulation while its circulation is made up of 85 percent sold copy which is higher than its rivals The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and the Independent. The latest circulation figures put the Guardian at 1,206,000 which is one of the highest for a quality national Newspaper save for tabloids such as the Sun, Mirror and News of the World.
The Guardian is one of the best selling newspapers in the UK. It caters to the section of the market which wants to read quality news and does not bother with tabloid news. It is within of people who want to pay for quality albeit it be at a higher price. The quality of the newspaper is equal to the quality of newspapers such as the FT and the Times but at a better price. It is available over the UK so that people can get access to it.
The marketing mix consists of product, promotion, place and price. These are all important factors in the marketing mix. Pricing is the most important part of the marketing mix as it distinguishes one newspaper from the other. The cover price which is set determines the flow of revenue to the newspaper.
The Guardian can be categorised as a multi product paper as there is a second section besides the main paper known as the G2. This was introduced in 1988 initially as a platform for classified recruitment ads in which the Guardian had a healthy 40 percent market share. Research analysts at the Guardian found out that people would only buy the paper when the classified ads came out. This is one reason why there is a main paper along with a theme for each particular day along with classified ads for that particular theme. This proved to be a success for the Guardian as it has managed to maintain its editorial view and yet provide everything a general reader requires in G2. The editorial team has made the newspaper more accessible to younger readers and women by using four colours and making the design of news and features more relaxed and friendly. There are supplements such as Education which come out on Tuesday while the Friday Review covers everything in the entertainment industry i.e. Film, Music, Theater, etc.
The Guardian currently sells for 90 p a copy which puts it on par with the other newspapers on sale in the market. However due to increasing costs the price of the Guardian will rise to \ £1 from the 7th of September 2009 while it's Saturday edition will rise by 20p to £1.90.
This is still better in comparison with the Financial Times who increased their prices to £2 in April 2009 while the Times rose to 90p in January. A newspaper such as The Independent's cover price is £1 and The Daily Telegraph is 90p. The Saturday Times costs £1.50, while the weekend version of the Daily Telegraph Independent each cost £1.60. In order to reduce the burden of price rises, the Guardian offers subscription schemes which allow readers to get newspapers at a cheaper price.
However despite these price changes the Guardian still sells well as it's an upmarket paper. They are better priced than most of the other papers in the market (Exceptions are tabloids such as the Sun and Mirror) and offer great value for the money. The price rise has occurred slowly throughout the years but then the Guardian Media Group has been careful not to compromise on quality even if there was no price rise. Promotional strategies such as free vouchers or money off coupons for items have helped the Guardian as people are always finding ways of saving money. Reducing the price will not help them as it will only attract new customers for the time being but will drive them away due to the lack of innovation. This has allowed for stability in the circulation, maximized revenues and a strong healthy brand.
Place/Distribution (Promotion) :
The Guardian is well known and respected throughout the UK. They have access to various channels of distribution in order for users to gain access to their paper. The Guardian has reduced its bulkhead in order to cut costs. They sell their newspaper through the usual wholesaler who sells the paper to consumers. However the wholesalers buy it at a cheaper price and sell it through retailers such as newsagents, stores, 24 hour stores at petrol pumps, major supermarkets, etc. The Guardian also offers the option of subscriptions which make it easier for the consumer to get value for the money when buying the paper. The Guardian is also able to capitalise on the internet to promote itself mainly due to its news website, dating and travel website and capitalising on twitter which sends news out in real time.
The Guardian also uses promotional strategies such as in-paper ads promoting articles of special interest. The creative people in the promotions department made these ads in an innovative and funky manner in order to showcase the creative potential of newspaper ads. The Guardian also promotes it's papers through media and direct marketing i.e. Posters, TV and Radio Advertising. This has helped them to gain more sales on Saturdays and to make up for slow sales from Monday to Friday.
The Guardian has a network of more than 20 sites which cover areas from , arts, education, jobs, news, politics, film, books, travel, shopping, life and health, money, science, technology, football and sport, along with specialised websites such as MediaGuardian.co.uk, EducationGuardian.co.uk, SocietyGuardian.co.uk .
They also have a large number of their editorial staff online who can respond instantly to any breaking news events online. The Guardian has managed to capitalise on the E-Business model by offering services such as Online Dating, Travel Reservations in order to increase its revenue. The global recession played havoc with the cash flow for a large number of organizations. The Guardian created this websites to get an additional revenue stream besides advertising as companies are spending less on their advertisement budgets due to budgetary concerns. Online dating has been a cash cow for the Guardian mainly due to the fact that people are always looking for their soulmate and would like to visit a quality website to get their work done. The large amount of money invested in it has netted the Guardian around 95k members so far. It was also accompanied by a large Marketing campaign in order to raise awareness for the website as well as being promoted in media owned by the Guardian Media Group.
The Guardian has made a lot of revenue year on year through its travel website mainly due to it's usage of videos. This is one reason why that they have decided to maximise on the potential to get more sales by using more editorially driven video content.
They are known for their integrity and innovation as well as their state of the art content solutions and accurate reporting. The Guardian websites are easily available on all sorts of mediums such as email, mobile phones, Streaming feeds as well as audio and video.
The Guardian recently signed up with Google Apps in a drive to shake up its collaborative processes. Google Apps Premier Edition will allow the staff at the Guardian to collaborate with each other as part of the revamp. They can use all sorts of tools such as mail, video, calendaring, desktop productivity tools and other capabilities. This is a good effort to save costs rather than deploying technology such as Lotus Notes or IBM Domino who are way ahead of the league but have too much baggage attached. The fact that Google Apps was quiet easy to adopt, has offline capabilities and was easy on the wallet as well worked in it's advantage. The Guardian Media Group is estimated to have saved around £30 m a year in maintenance and energy costs.
Decision Support System
The Guardian Media Group relies on a CRM to help them cope with all the decision making. The GMG has combined all their marketing databases, analysis and reporting tools in house so that it's easier for them to manage access. It makes more sense for them to have all data assets in one place. The database combines all the multiple databases to create a single point of view for everyone. All the data from the Guardian media sources are fed into the databases through all modes such as the internet, intranets, telephones etc. Their database is updated daily and has around 3 million customer records and around 13 million customer interactions. The database also allows for the upper management and middle management to make decisions on behalf of the newspaper. This permits the marketing department to conduct campaigns to target new customers.
Reader offer campaigns can be created through the database based on their needs. They can also target people through recruitment advertising which has been generated to specific employment sectors based upon attributes and behaviour identified and extracted via the database.
The Guardian sells under the name “The Guardian Weekly” in the US in order to gain access to the lucrative US Newspaper market. It is not so easy to sell a newspaper there as one has to make a British newspaper acceptable to a US audience. The Guardian Weekly was launched in 1919 under the assumption that it would be a digest catering to an international audience.
The Guardian Weekly is an important project for the Guardian Media group. The need for a global newspaper came after the horrific Gulf war and the events of 9/11. International audiences found the need for a newspaper which was trustworthy and independent from all the political affiliations.
They have agreements with other newspapers such as the Washington Post and Le Monde so that they can syndicate their stories. This helps result in bringing a proper balanced news analysis from around the world. The difference in the US version and British version of the newspaper is that US news and commentary takes more priority than the news from the rest of the world.
The GMG spends around £1-2million to increase the circulation of the paper to around 25,000 in the US and Canada. They rely on four stages which are the delivery stage retail distribution, subscription and advertising sales. They have different centres for printing for delivery in the world. Montreal is the hub for North America, Sydney takes care of Oceania while London takes care of Europe and Africa.
The editorial content with advertisements is sent to all the sites in the world through a secure internet connection while the distribution takes place locally. The paper is printed in the US on Tuesdays so that it can be delivered by Thursday or Friday.
The retail distribution and sales are used to promote subscriptions as the production and distribution costs are high. This results in lower revenue for the paper. That is one reason why they need to work with retailers to get their brand noticed.
A subscription model would work better as it is more cost effective for them as they know that the customer will be buying the newspaper by paying money upfront which offsets costs. Advertising sales are conducted through London as the headquarters are based there.