Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Flourishing in a Harsh Climate - Matthew Batstone, the Economics Group

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Flourishing in a Harsh Climate - Matthew Batstone, the Economics Group

Article excerpt

Matthew Batstone Group strategy and marketing director, The Economist Group.

The Economist Group may have just posted one of its strongest sets of financial results, bucking the widespread corporate misery in the print media, but its marketing boss, Matthew Batstone, is unequivocal about his personal highlight of 2008: 'Portsmouth winning the FA Cup,' he says. 'I grew up outside the town and that capped a pretty good year all round.'

Results on the work front have been impressive, too; group revenue rose 8% while print ad revenue for The Economist was ahead by 16% in the key US market. The title's global circulation grew 9% to 1.3m, and the group plans to launch in India and the rest of Asia.

Batstone believes The Economist is insulated against the ad recession. 'The positioning of the group is perfect for the current macro-conditions,' he says. 'Around the world there is an emergence of a high-end audience who are senior business people and decision-makers, travel a lot and have an international perspective, and they are the focus of our products. They have always been hard to reach, and, as media fragments, it is even harder, but The Economist becomes ever-more relevant for them.'

Through titles such as The Economist, Roll Call, European Voice and EuroFinance, the media group is mapping out a strong future in Europe, the Far East and the US. Recent success in the latter has been particularly pronounced as a number of products continue to gain market share.

'Factors such as 11 September 2001 provided a context in the US where The Economist looked particularly valuable. It was a graphic example that the rest of the world can have a substantial impact on the US,' says Batstone. 'By and large, international affairs were not well covered by the US media, and at the same time we have seen a lot of US media trying to support large circulations. This has left a space at the time that we have been able to fill.'

Strong transatlantic sales have encouraged the group to increase its marketing spend significantly. Batstone is determined to continue to invest heavily in the coming years, placing a particular focus on developing online products. …

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