MEN frees boost young readership

The Manchester Evening News claims to have boosted its young and wealthy readership following its decision to distribute 50,000 free copies of the paper in the city centre.

Although sales in the outer areas have declined, it is unclear how this decline has been directly affected by the decision to go free in some areas.

Prior to the launch of the part-paid part-free strategy in April, the paper had two price increases to 35p.

Distribution of the free edition has now increased to 60,000.

MEN editor Paul Horrocks said: "Clearly there has been a reduction in sales, but what we're not able to separate at the moment is the cause and effect between part-paid part-free and the fact we had two price rises.

"We haven't lost 60,000 sales because we've got 60,000 frees. The market research we have had done was extremely favourable.

"It showed we are now getting to a much higher proportion of younger people; we are hitting more of the crucial 15- to 44-year-olds, and that we were getting to those with more spending power in the ABC1 category.

"The great thing is you go into Manchester city centre and the city is awash with the paper, every other person is reading it. We have got no problem distributing up to 60,000 copies every day in the city centre."

The MEN won plaudits for its distribution strategy last week at Press Gazette's Regional Press Awards, where the paper was joint winner of the new publishing innovation award.

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