Daily Archives: 2 February 2012

TOI readers affluent, not middle class. Mind it.

R. Sukumar, the editor of the business daily Mint, wrote an article recently on the Hindu-Times of India ad war, saying:

The Times of India has, over the past few years, become a good read … perhaps, driven by the realization that Page 1 of the country’s most-read English newspaper needs to reflect the sentiments of the English-speaking middle class…”

The Times of India, whose business daily The Economic Times competes with Mint in some markets, has taken offence—serious offence!—at this “slur” of its readers being middle-class.

In an unbylined piece on its website, a Times News Network (TNN) correspondent writes:

“TOI has a readership of 7.4 million…. [If] you compare it with the total size of the Indian population, which is approximately 1.2 billion… TOI‘s readers actually constitute 0.6% of the Indian population.¬†And logically speaking, they obviously know English, which is still the language of the elite in India.

“The Asian Development Bank (ADB) stated that India’s middle-class—defined as those able to spend $2 and $20 a day in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars had expanded to about 420 million. By this definition, TOI readers are not only just 0.6% of India’s overall population, they also constitute barely 1.8% of its middle class.

“Interestingly, the report defined those who could spend more than $20 a day as affluent. India has approximately 26 million of them. It’s a safe bet that most of TOI’s readers would fall into this category. So, if at all a word has to be used to describe TOI readers, it should be “affluent”.

“Though perhaps it might be more accurate to dub them the creamiest of layers. Because when you compare their incomes and spending power with the Indian average, it is clear that they form the very peak of the pyramid.

“In any case, it’s the rare top industrialist/CEO/bureaucrat/politician who does not read TOI. Indeed, if you did a dipstick survey, you might struggle to find even one. TOI readers may be relatively small in numbers, but they wield disproportionate economic and political clout.

“They are decision makers, influencers, movers and shakers. Which is why it’s unfair to collectively club them under the omnibus term “middle class”.

Also read: How Times Hindu aimed at Hindu Times but shot DNA

External reading: A battle for the hearts and souls of readers