I'm never slow to praise frank talking, as I've felt for a while now that those who are bluffing their way through life always try hardest to hide behind a veil of unnecessary management speak and overly complicated presentation charts.
On MediaGuardian today, a great piece from Roger Alton, about the perilous state of the Independent, particularly after putting the price up to £1 and losing 16% of daily circulation year-on-year. Here is the link to the original article:
Two things to comment on. In the same way that bears like the woods, and the Pope likes to encourage lots of children, raising the cover price of any newspaper will lose sale - it's only the magnitude of the loss that is up for debate. If the paper is good enough, and provides sufficient perceived value for the additional pennies, then the losses can be minimal. In the case of the Independent, it looks like it's a bridge too far, and will only get worse given the additional editorial job-cuts in the pipeline.
Mr Alton's quote is priceless though, and hats off for plain talking....
"Asked if he regretted the decision to raise the Independent's cover price in September, he said: "Take a wild guess! We were aware of the risks when we did it and the ice cold winds of the recession have increased to gale force more or less from that day.
From the bottom of the market to charge the most was always very risky. It's made us very vulnerable.
If I could do anything to reverse [the ensuing circulation fall], literally anything - I'd saw off my right fucking forearm - I would."
I'd have guessed at a 10% plus decline from a move to a cover price of £1 without any consumer research, based purely on 11 years of cover price movement in the UK market. This does illustrate the value of market research coupled with experience when it comes to making serious commercial decisions. Do it blindly, and repent at your leisure, giving you ample time to self-flagellate with one or both of your hands.
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