Trinity Mirror’s the New Day newspaper is labouring to consistently shift 80 per cent of its 200,000 daily print run, The Drum has learned, but the publisher is adamant the title will come good given time to carve out a niche, writes Seb Joseph and Jessica Goodfellow.
Pulling the plug on the newspaper so early on its life was never going to happen, though the slow start does bring into focus the scale of the challenge it faces. Sales regularly sat between 140,000 and 150,000 copies the days after its launch when it cost 25p, according to rival circulation teams, who claim that the figure has tumbled to around 40,000 in the wake of the introduction of the 50p price. On Monday (28 March) the title was able to only shift 38,000 - just a little less than the Independent was selling during its final stretch.
Trinity Mirror declined to confirm the figures when asked by The Drum and instead downplayed the New Day’s dip in readership and the price increase would have on its future.
“The New Day is an entirely new brand in its first month of life so it’s too soon to draw any meaningful conclusions on circulation or how successful any particular strand of the launch marketing has been – and that includes pricing,” explained Zoe Harris, group marketing director at Trinity Mirror.
Some media observers thought it was folly for Trinity Mirror to go ahead with the price hike within a month of its arrival, and it would appear many of its early readers think so too. No one likes products going up in price so a dip in circulation was to be expected and the publisher had already planned to sharpen its distribution strategy based on early responses. A distribution plan for where the New Day will be sold hasn’t been fully drawn up yet, with Trinity Mirror adamant that it will be slightly different to other newspapers.
“From our end we have achieved what we set out to do, the feedback from the target audience and their understanding of what the product is has been as it should be from the marketing and kind of metrics that we will look to measure over time,” said Harris. “We are clear on what we are trying to do and we are on a clear path to do that.”
Harris is right in the sense that circulation is only one measure of success, although in the absence of a strong brand it could prove difficult for the New Day’s sales teams to get advertisers to take it seriously. Aldi, DFS, Vauxhall, Debenhams, O2, BT and Boots have all tried the paper as an advertising medium and Harris clarified the reaction from advertisers as “positive”. Indeed, agencies are supportive of the launch, perhaps spotting its potential to tap a lucrative audience of young, professional women, but are also mindful the newspaper needs a solid base readership for it thrive in a print market that is lagging.
It’s an issue that the paper will likely look to address in order to rescue its brand. Unlike other publishers, Trinity Mirror is public with big institutional investors, some of whom The Drum understands were dubious about launching a new national title, and that inherent apathy could see it forced to prematurely end its life on newsstands.
So what does Trinity Mirror need to do to make New Day success? For advertisers it’s about engagement of audience, an audience that they have turned on the head in a digital fatigue that the publisher wants to exploit. From a wider sell it means that Trinity can come in and offer an enhanced audience and package.
"For us it is building and developing the relationship with the readers and really getting under the skin of how that relationship builds and what that means,” said Harris.
“It is different to how other newspapers work so there is not really a model for us to follow, so some of the tried and tested strategies for that are very different for us. As a title we are very proud that our coverage of events has often led the broadcast news reports and been the most tweeted cover. So we will build on that and continually reinforce what our newspaper is about and how it is different to others.”