Today, the publisher of the national newspaper The Independent launched a newspaper named “i”, retailing for a mere 20p (The Independent costs £1). This is the first national newspaper to launch in the UK in 24 years (the last being The Independent in 1986).
What’s interesting is how the marketing and PR reiterates that the i is a “concise, quality daily paper”, it’s also aimed squarely at lapsed readers, and readers in their 20’s. Readership of The Independent, and all newspapers for that matter have been in decline for years, with the % age of readers increasing. On paper (sorry couldn’t resist that) this is a good idea, as I don’t know anyone that could serious read everything that’s in a quality daily newspaper, they’re too big, they’re aimed at too broad a demographic, they’re expensive, and no one has time to read them from cover to cover. So the customer feels they’re not getting value for money, they’re paying too much for a bloated oversized daily of which they only read a small percentage.
The answer is to be more niche, but newspaper have a problem, they’re in the physical world, they’re made out of paper, so they’ll never be able to compete with niche blogs, websites or newsfeeds. It’s no longer a case of quality either, online material can be very high quality, it’s very current and up to date plus you can share it with others and expand the network to colleagues and friends at the touch of a button… another drawback of printed papers is that you can’t archive them (not in a practical way), online stories are always available, if you’ve missed a story develop you can quickly be brought up to spread by reading related articles and links. That would be a great thing for printed papers to emulate, start archiving their own back catalogues and offer them online, what a wealth of information they must be sitting on!
So will the i work? depends where and how, in London, with the Evening Standard (from the same publisher) becoming a free daily a year ago, it virtually wiped out the competition of free dailies, with the Metro being the only one that still has a large readership. So the i will be competing with it’s own free newspaper! Not to mention it’s big brother The Independent, which at £1 a pop, that 5 i readers!?!
Do those in their 20’s read newspapers anyway, ones they have to pay for that is… why would they, when they already get all the latest information they need online in an instant? I’m not so sure about this, I’m in my 40’s and I’ve never bought a newspaper in my life! I admit I’m a rarity in my demographic, but within the 20 something demographic, there’s a greater number that would go online before they’d purchase anything in print, especially as it suffers the same problem every printed newspaper has, it’s yesterday’s news!
I know I’m a little biased, I’m not that enamoured seeing another newspaper in print, but one possible saving grace, is if for every additional i reader there is one less Independent reader that will be a good thing, as the i is half the size of the Independent, so uses far less paper!