i targets busy professionals in Starbucks deal

The Independent has signed a deal with Starbucks that will see its “i” title sold in 600 stores, one of several marketing initiatives planned for the news digest to maintain recent circulation gains.

i newspaper

The Starbucks deal will see the ‘i’ on sale six days a week, with the Independent on Sunday taking its place on the seventh day. The i replaces The Guardian and Observer titles, which were previously on sale at the coffee chain. Starbucks has also previously sold News International’s The Times, which is now sold at Caffè Nero branches.

Additionally, street vendors will be selling the title at 20 ‘major urban’ locations around the UK to coincide with a TV campaign during October. Voucher and direct marketing advertising will also run.

Independent group chief executive Andrew Mullins told Marketing Week the campaign is designed to encourage trial among busy 25-44 year old professionals. He says it also aims to counter the fact that “people do not have a need to go into newsagents anymore”.

Mullins says the continued success of ‘i’ will depend on ensuring it is “convenient”. “Convenience is a massive trend in the UK. The bottom line is if your provide for the needs of consumers in a convenient way – low price or no price – they will buy it,” he adds.

He also indicated the group would continue to prioritise investment on its print products over digital, unlike its competitors, most notably the Guardian, which announced a digital first strategy last year.

“Our revenues come from print so we will continue to focus on that while building digital until we see a shift,” says Mullins.

Mullins faced down critics when the group launched ‘i’ almost exactly two years ago predicting it would achieve sales of 200,000 a week. It now sells around 220,000 a week.

It has been argued the i’s success has been at the expense of Independent sales, but Mullins says the title is holding up well when it has had no advertising or promotion support for 2.5 years.

He also points out that its circulation figures are skewed by the publishers move to transfer 75 per cent bulk sales from the Independent to its new sibling.

The Independent is leading a race to the bottom in the declining newspaper market. Its ABC net circulation was down by almost half (49%) in the six months to August compared to the same period last year, and slipped below the 100,000 mark for the first time to 91,669.

Meanwhile new stablemate ‘i”s circulation was up well over over half in the same period (58%) to 275,628, overtaking The Guardian, according to ABC data released last month.

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