Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Pressing for Loyalty

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Pressing for Loyalty

Article excerpt

The Telegraph Group's quality rivals are eyeing its subscriber figures jealously.

Last week, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian both added 10p to their cover price following a similar move by The Times. Practically, the change is small, but strategically it means a lot more.

The hikes are seen by many in the industry as a shift of focus toward subscriptions. In the UK, the newspapers that already offer subscriptions are The Times and The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, and the Financial Times. Although The Guardian says it has no immediate plans to join in, the tactic of winning customer loyalty via subscriptions is set to become far more prevalent in the quality market.

The situation is different in the US, where the more limited choice of newspapers has propelled the level of subscribers to an astonishing 75% of sales. While it is unlikely that this figure will be reached in the UK, publishers are realising the benefits of knowing who, and where, their readers are.

The Telegraph Group, which is credited with being the chief driver of the subscriptions market, has been making heavily discounted offers since 1996. Now, Times Media has launched a loyalty card, called Culture+, which gives subscribers free tickets to events and various membership offers.

Currently, Times Media sells 17% of its newspapers to subscribers, and hopes that Culture+ will help it at least match the 38% subscription figure boasted by The Telegraph Group. The latter's model - an invitation-only, heavily discounted programme - is seen as very much a legacy of the newspaper price wars of the 90s. The group's marketing director, Barry Flanigan, says it will maintain its focus on subscriptions. 'It will continue to be a major emphasis for us given that we have 300,000 subscribers,' he says. 'It's a way of building loyalty as well as getting readers to interact with your brand in novel ways.'

Rivals argue that The Daily Telegraph's discounts are largely to blame for the fact that subscriptions are seen to be of less value than newsstand sales. The reality, of course, is that subscribers offer a wealth of value to newspapers and advertisers, enabling them to know their audience through customer data.

Times Media sales and marketing director Katie Vanneck claims the Culture+ scheme took lessons from the more customer-driven programmes of US and European newspapers. …

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