The top man takes us through harlequin mills & boon’s strategy for india
Teenage girls, middle-aged women or grannies in India – all have grown up reading Mills & Boon and swooning over the ‘tall, dark & handsome’ prince charming. Manish Singh, Country Head, Harlequin Mills & Boon India shares with 4Ps B&M his company’s India strategy

Mills & Boon has always had a cult following among readers and generations after generations girls have been obsessed with the talk, dark & handsome princes featured in your books who come as the night in shining armours and save the poor girl. In today’s modern era is the audience still looking for these saviours or has the book lovers appetite changed?
Mills and Boon heroes still play a very pivotal role in the plot. He must be charismatic and supremely attractive, often wealthy and powerful. But the heroine herself has changed. Our heroines are now modern women with a career and a mind of their own and are looking for an enduring romantic relationship on their terms. So naturally the prince charming had to do more now than to just look good.

How big is the Indian market for you considering Harlequin Mills & Boon books are sold in over 25 languages in over 100 countries on 6 continents?
The Indian market is growing very fast and the English language market is also growing at 10% per annum. Then here 60% of the population is youth and unlike in the past they make their own decisions. So there’s a great potential and we think we have a lot of options to explore in the market. If we take the global sales, I think in case of India, we are close to 10% and in the last few years we have almost doubled our sales in India.

What is the TG that you are catering to in India?
We have readership from the age of 16 to 60 years. We have different product offerings for different age groups. Like Modern is a series that talks about international affairs, while Desire is all about seduction and passion. Romance series talk about romance and emotion, and then we have Special Moments that emphasises on relationships.

Any plans of launching books in Hindi or any other regional language in the near future?
We are already publishing in 26 languages. Our research shows that there is a very small market for Hindi readers, but we are open for the future because it is a promising market.

What is your distribution strategy in India?
We’ve a unique distribution model in India and worldwide. We have exclusive distribution arrangements with Living Media Pvt. Ltd., which is part of the India Today group. Our distribution strategy is unique because we follow the magazine kind of a model, wherein new titles are introduced every month and the old ones are recollected. This model gives viewers a new product every time. We follow the cascading distribution model. The Indian operations are responsible for the whole of south Asia. Books are also sold to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and the books that are recollected are not sold back in India.

Is your pricing strategy for selling in India the same as in other parts of the world?
Yes, the strategy in India is the same as around the world. Habitual consumers indicate multiple purchasing habits, so we need to make the books affordable because nobody reads one and nobody reads for one month. The books were costlier earlier because then we were exporting books but now they are much cheaper. Previously they were being sold at `250 and now they are sold for `99 only.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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