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Isolezwe sales soar to new heights!

Monday, March 6 this year was a special day for the Zulu-language mainstream newspaper, Isolezwe. Sales hit a record 118 363, giving ample indication that "the sky's the limit" for this Durban-based publication.

An Isolezwe reader enjoys his newspaper while waiting for his taxi to transport him to work.
Circulation, management and editorial keep their feet on the ground, however, realising that it's the title's ability to break stories most relevant to the Zulu market that is attracting new readers to the title. This particular Monday's issue included a story on SABC weatherman Jobe's HIV status, TK's funeral, local government election stories, as well as the regular columnists and features and a strong sport section.

It's a realist approach which has put Isolezwe - part of the Independent Newspapers stable - on the path to becoming not only one of the biggest daily papers in South Africa but also one of the best.

Brian Porter, acting general manager of Independent Newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal, said Isolezwe's growth had exceeded all expectations. "When the title was launched in 2002 the aim was to reach 50 000 a day at the end of two years - that figure was reached in 15 months!

"Latest AMPS figures show the paper attracts just under 600 000 readers daily while sales average around 90 000 (they were 34 000 in the second half of 2002).

"Isolezwe has entrenched itself in the middle market, appealing to an upwardly mobile audience - AMPS shows 31% of its readers are in the LSM 6 bracket (62% in the groups LSM 5 to LSM 8). Significantly, Isolezwe appeals to women who comprise 43% of its readers," said Porter.

Circulation manager, Anesh Ramjith, said Isolezwe has an innovative way of getting the paper to the people. "Roving sellers operate at bus ranks and train stations at high volume commuter nodes.

"The Distribution Department ensures the paper is available by 5.30am every weekday to enable commuters to buy their Isolezwe on the way to work."

"So when you see early morning travellers reading in taxis or on the buses and trains in KZN, it's a safe bet there's an Isolezwe in their hands!" said Ramjith.

"During the past year we have made inroads into the more rural areas up the north and down the south coasts, Pietermaritzburg, northern KZN and the Midlands. Greater Durban still accounts for roughly half our sale, where we believe there is more room for growth - particularly in the KwaMashu, Claremont and Umlazi areas.

"We also negotiate with cellular telephone kiosks and tuck shops to carry the paper."

Ramjith said if readers missed the paper in the morning they often made a point of buying it in the evening. "Reader loyalty is a significant factor in our growth."

Inroads are also being made into Gauteng where sales have reached 6 500 from an initial 1 500.

Editor Thulani Mbatha said Isolezwe had no political affiliations. "We offer the latest news which is presented in a readable and attractive format. We have a solid staff base - many of our people, including myself, have been with the newspaper since its inception and are proud of being ahead of our competitors.

"We look for news with a difference and interact with our readers. A new element is a consumer column which has been introduced on Tuesdays and we hope to start finance pages soon," said Mbatha.

"I am excited by Isolezwe's growth and confident of its future success."

Launched at R1,50, the cover price paper has increased by just 50c over the past four years.

Editorial contact
Independent Newspapers KZN
Maggie Wittstock
031 308 2553

4 Apr 2006 09:59



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