In an era of declining newspaper sales, South Africa’s tabloids appear to be bucking the trend. One of those is the recently renamed (to align it more closely with its daily partner, Die Son) Son-op-Sondag. TheMediaOnline caught up with editor, Andrew Koopman.
“The reason Son-op-Sondag is doing so well, in addition to its being in a growth market segment, can be attributed to three main factors. Firstly, Son-op-Sondag and Son daily are relatively new entrants in the market and are targeted at a previously disadvantaged sector of the population that never had a print title specifically produced for them before, and due to improved living conditions can now afford, and have an interest in, reading newspapers,” Koopman said.
The most recent ABC figures (Jan-Mar 2011) indicate that Son-op-Sondag has a circulation of 66 588.
“Secondly, we are very finely attuned, from an editorial perspective, to the needs of the market that we serve. Our editorial content speaks to the hearts and the minds of our readers, which has created a very loyal readership base.
“And lastly, due to the fact that our Sunday title’s footprint is very different to the daily title, which can be attributed to different purchase and reading habits on a Sunday, it was necessary to build a totally unique distribution infrastructure, and this we managed to do very well which has contributed to the growth in circulation,” he said.
Koopman said that at its heart, Son-op-Sondag concentrated on the issues of “jobs, safety and security issues, housing, education and health”.
“Like any other newspaper, we aim to educate, inform and entertain. We have a very loyal readership. People relate to the kind of news we are publishing. It is unique news, specifically aimed at the target market we serve. You won’t easily find our news stories on the seven o’ clock TV news bulletin, as we try to give our readers something fresh, something that affects their daily lives and something they can relate to,” Koopman explained.
“People regard us as ‘our champion’. Our news offering is also well balanced in that we will write about crime and corruption, but we will also make sure that there is something to smile about in the paper.
‘People feel depressed when they read some newspapers that only tell them about the negative things happening in our country and we do not want that. We want to tell them about positive role models and about ways to improve their life and their circumstances too. Reading Son should be a pleasant experience and that is what the editorial team aims for.”
Like any other newspaper in South Africa, Son-op-Sondag has to fight for its slice of the advertising pie. It’s a battle Koopman and his teams at Ads24 are still fighting to win. Although, he said, there are signs of improvement.
“Both Son-op-Sondag and Son daily have enjoyed phenomenal circulation growth since their launch, and unfortunately advertising has not, as yet, followed the same growth trend,” Koopman said.
“It appears as though advertisers have been cautious in including some of the newer tabloid titles on their media schedules. During the past fiscal however, the advertising prospects for both Son-op-Sondag and Son daily have improved significantly as advertisers have started to realise the value that both titles and the markets that they reach offer, which is very promising.”
Ads24, Media24’s advertising arm, recently devised an imaginative advertisement designed to inform advertisers just how lucrative it could be to advertise in Afrikaans language newspapers.
Sifiso Pule, Ads24’s trade marketing manager, says that the innovative Think Afrikaans advertisement was prompted by his group’s preponderance of Afrikaans newspapers and the widespread myth that the Afrikaans market is not worthy of active pursuit.
“We sourced a great many statistics to disprove that myth and collated them into what we believe is a compelling case for advertising in the Afrikaans media.”
Among the statistics that would, Pule maintains, raise a great many eyebrows:
- Afrikaans is South Africa’s third-largest language group (English is the fourth-largest);
- The Afrikaans community accounts for R391 billion of total household expenditure;
- Of all South Africans, 11,4 million (34%) can read or understand Afrikaans;
- 25% of the nation’s R20 000+ household income earners are Afrikaans speaking;
- 58% of South Africa’s white population is Afrikaans;
- The Coloured community accounts for 46% of all Afrikaans speakers;
- 77% of the Coloured population speaks Afrikaans;
- Media24’s Afrikaans newspapers reach 2,4 million Afrikaans readers; and
- 90% of Media24’s Afrikaans newspaper readers read no other newspaper.