Case Study




In a newspaper organization like DNA (Gujarat version known as Divyabhaskar), there are various factors that determine the successful operation of the sales and distribution channels. Accordingly, even minor issues in these operations can adversely affect the newspaper.


A customer may choose a newspaper for various reasons. However, it’s up to the newspaper agencies to communicate to the customer that their newspaper can deliver all the values a customer may look for. The reach and popularity of a newspaper to a large extent depends on its distribution network. Here we have carried out an analysis on the delivery and sales management of the DNA newspaper in order to better understand their channel and also identify and provide possible solutions to any shortcomings.

   Role of each Member

i.    Printing Press


The press prints the required units for the day according to the production plan. It takes the content from the editorial team and prints using high capacity advanced press machines that deliver the product in packaged condition.


ii.   Transporter


The packaged newspapers are transported through contracted trucks and vans to different distribution locations. Each van has a capacity for about 20,000 newspapers.


iii.  Distribution Centre


The distribution centre receives the copies from the transporter and stocks it for a short duration before handing it over to the various vendors and hawkers who source it from the centre. A centre typically employs three persons. The payment for the goods is on a daily basis.


iv.  Vendors and Hawkers


Vendors and hawkers source their newspapers from the distribution centre and deliver them to the customers. Vendors are larger in scale than hawkers and employ delivery boys. The delivery boys have demarcated regions/housing societies, which they serve. Hawkers are individuals who do not have established customers and sell at road sides, bus stands etc. They make small quantity purchases.


  1. 3.   Financial Transactions and Credit Terms


  1. i.       Transporter


Transporters follow contractual terms and conditions. They are paid on a per km basis. They adhere to strict time schedules and penalties are imposed based on the delay in delivery to distribution centres.



ii.    Vendors


Vendors buy a fixed, large amount of newspapers daily and pay in cash on a day-to-day basis. Any papers which remain unsold at the end of the day can be returned back to Divya Bhaskar.


iii.    Hawkers

Hawkers typically buy a small quantity (around 100 newspapers) and may not be regulars. On paying cash at a cash counter, they can collect the newspapers. There is no arrangement to take back the unsold stock.


4.    The business and operations of the chosen organization


The entire process works in three main stages:


i.    Content Gathering and Layout


This stage begins with news gathering. News is gathered directly by reporters of Divya Bhaskar as well as indirectly through news agencies. Each paper has local pages which are different for each locality and carries common national, international, business pages and so on. Reporters usually gather the local news and news agencies are used for the remaining news.


Two teams work in preparing the newspaper template – the layout team and the editorial team. The layout team prepares a layout with a fixed space for different articles and does the work of inserting the advertisements. Once the layout is ready, it is passed on to the editorial team which develops the content and fits it into the layout.



ii.    Printing


The pages which have been uploaded on the server are printed one by one to create an initial base template for each of the pages. These templates are checked and then sent to the printing press. Once the papers are printed, supplements are inserted into the main paper. Once packing and labeling is done, the bundles are ready to be sent for distribution.



iii.    Distribution


As soon as a bundle is ready, it is loaded into a waiting van. The number of papers loaded into a van depends upon the area to which it is scheduled to go. Typically, a van carries around 20,000 papers. When a van is fully loaded, it is dispatched to the respective area.



5.  Relationships and Expectations


The various stakeholders in the value chain need to work closely to deliver the service quality expected in a newspaper delivery each morning without fail. This infallible commitment to the customers requires that each actor in the value chain clearly understands the expectations off him/her and clearly communicates his/her expectations to the others.


i.    Company


The company is at the head of the value chain and is clearly the Channel Leader. The customers come to the vendors and/or hawkers with an intention of buying a particular newspaper which clearly indicates that the brand of the product is important and not the vendor or hawker as such. Thus, from the point of view of the vendor/hawker, the supplier power is relatively high.


The dealers (vendors/hawkers) expect the following from the company:


  • Timely delivery of the newspaper each morning in all weather conditions.


  • Proper quantity to be delivered each day as per their demands.


  • Newspaper which are not sold the prior day to be returned and reimbursed.


  • Their commissions to be maintained in the long run and not reduced especially as the newspaper circulation picks up.


  • Make it easier for them to collect newspapers



There are several customer segments on the basis of income and age categories and hence expectations differ. However, the following are a common subset across different segments:


  • The newspaper should report all “relevant” news rep  orts from the previous day


  • There should be interesting feature articles suiting their taste.


  • The presentation should be good including the print quality and colours.


  • The higher the newspaper weight, the better since it can be sold for a higher price at the kabadiwala.


ii.    Dealers

The dealers (vendors/hawkers) are the company’s sole touch point to the customers. The company’s relationship with hawkers is temporary since they have a fluctuating demand and


hence the important dealers from the company’s perspective are the vendors who typically have a committed demand based on the number of customers they serve. The company expects the following from these vendors:


  • To deliver the newspapers on time to the customers.


  • To ensure that they do not overcharge the customers making it expensive for the customers.


  • To ensure that any supplement/promotional material being sent along with the newspaper by the company being delivered to the customers without any pilferage (e.g. at times newspaper stick samples of products on pages in their advertiser’s promotion campaigns).


  1. iii.       Customers

The company’s relationship with the customers is typically long term since people do not usually change their newspaper reading habits. We could not gather any clear expectations that the company executives had from their customers. On the editorial side, there could be expectations on content related feedback especially through letters to the editor etc. but these were not explicitly mentioned by the company executives.

6.    Joint and Independent Decisions


Financial and product related decisions are usually taken solely by the company. However, non-financial decisions in the value chain are either taken by the vendors or by the company or by joint consultation.


  • The service area for each vendor and the quantity each vendor buys is solely decided by the vendors. The company does not allocate territories or quotas. In fact, at times there can be severe rivalry among vendors for control over a particular area which can even lead to physical assaults,



  • Newspaper Advertisements are of two types.


o The ones printed in the paper which are decided solely by the company o The ones through pamphlet-inserts are decided solely by vendors.


  • Time of delivery to vendors is typically decided in consultation with vendors since they need to be present to collect the newspapers. Since each vendor may be collecting multiple newspapers, the time needs to be coordinated.



7.    Physical Distribution


DNA prints 90,000 copies of newspapers daily. DNA knows about the daily demand from newspaper paper, like demand from newspaper vendors in Panjapore char rasta which is 20,000 copies daily. Mode of transportation used by DNA to deliver newspaper in different areas is different. Tempos are used for transporting newspapers in small quantities in towns near to printing press. For area where volume to be delivered is high trucks are used.


8.    Sales Incentives and Trade Promotion


There are no sales incentives given to suppliers and vendors by DNA. Hawkers and vendors get a margin of 50 paisa per newspaper. Vendors are free to put local inserts and advertisement pamphlet in the newspaper. On average 20 paisa per newspaper are paid for inserting pamphlets. So if a vendor sells more copies, he/she can increase his/her earnings from newspaper distribution as well as from inserting advertising pamphlets in the newspapers.


DNA provides promotional offers to institutes and organizations which buy newspapers in large quantity like bulk deal offer for IIMA students. Customers are also given discounts if they subscribe newspaper for longer time periods of 6 months or a year.


9.    Information Flow


Flow of information in the process of printing is as follows:

Other information can flow through the distribution cycle. Customers can give information about initiation of subscription to vendor or directly to DNA. In case, if customers directly contact DNA for subscription then DNA conveys customer information to vendor. Usually customers inform hawkers about permanent or temporary discontinuation of subscription. The hawker in turn then informs the aggregate demand to the vendor.




10. Basic Economies of Business


The newspaper derives its main source of revenue from advertisements. Advertisements are usually negotiated with Ad agencies for large corporations. In case of small businesses or individuals, the contact may be direct. Usually, the ratio of advertisements to content is fixed to around 40:60. However, if extra ads are required, an extra page may be inserted. Different pages have different ratios of advertisements to content. Since the amount and quality of advertisements are directly proportional to the volume and quality of readership, the main objective of the organization is to maximize readership. The newspaper itself is priced quite low keeping in mind the customer segment that it serves. Moreover, unlike in a few countries abroad, the newspaper cannot earn higher margins by offering services like customization due to the high population in India and the reluctance of people to pay for news.




11. Issues Concerning the Organization and its Distribution Channel


On analyzing the interaction of the organization with its distribution network, the customers and marketing decisions the following problems were identified:


i.    Content


A newspaper needs to match the reader’s requirements, especially if the newspaper is targeted in a local market, such as Divyabhaskar targeting Ahmedabad and neighbourhood localities. Thus, it not only needs to capture the articles of national interest but also the local interest. Divyabhaskar being a new entrant, may also face stiff competition from other local newspaper which operate in a very small size community, such as Sandesh. Thus, there is a critical need to monitor the nature of the newspaper content desired by the reader.



ii.    Layout and design


The layout and design of a newspaper appeals to the reader as much as the content in it. Hence, special attention must be paid to not only the layout of the newspaper but also the size and the quality of the final print. For example, particularly, for the residents of Ahmedabad, the sales are increased by keeping more pages in the newspaper print copy so as to provide higher resale costs to the reader.



iii.  Costs


In a highly competitive industry like newspapers, one of the ways a newspaper can make itself differentiable is by managing the cost to the customer. This includes both the cost of purchasing a print copy of the newspaper as well as the profit from reselling the newspaper.



iv.  Distribution


Newspaper is a highly perishable good and requires stringent timings to be followed. A delay may result in the wastage of enormous costs. Hence, newspaper printing press uses a highly time critical channel for the distribution where the risk of the delay is borne by each participant in the channel as and when the goods are transferred to him/her. Even a slip of a few minutes can create a cascading effect and the value of the newspaper diminishes (because the vendor/hawker will not pick up your newspaper and deliver it, if he is getting late by waiting for your newspaper to arrive).



Profit sharing throughout the distribution channel is also critical. Different newspaper agencies use different models for profit sharing, though they are bound by upper limit of commission at each level by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). The successful and efficient channel is the one where all the levels within the channel (namely, the printing press, transport, vendor, distributor, hawker) are committed to the timely delivery of the newspaper. For this, the newspaper agencies compete for the commission per copy absorbed at each level. Maintaining such competitive commission structures is one of the main issues faced by newspaper agencies in their respective distribution channels.





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