“Each wave fulfilled customer requirements at a new scale,” said Roy speaking at the recent WAN-IFRA Indian Printers Summit 2021.
“Our revenue improved year on year just because of these product variations. About 18-20 percent of additional year-on-year revenue was purely because of these product innovations,” he said.
The process behind the products
BCCL has developed a robust, simple and effective process of innovation to generate new products year after year.
“At all our printing plants we have ideation sessions conducted every month, said Peter Britto, Deputy General Manager at The Times of India, speaking at the same event.
“Several ideas are generated and these ideas are all brought together at half yearly innovation meetings,” he continued. “A lot of deliberation happens there. We scrutinise whether they work for our double width presses or single width presses, and then we choose about 25-30 very good innovations, the ones we feel are viable for press trials.”
Press trials are conducted for the selected innovations for as long as two months. The successful ones are taken to the leadership for review and then given to the plants.
“We have so many plants all across India, and they interact with the local marketing departments. So they take it to the local marketing departments who then evaluate them for the response in the market. Once that’s done, the response department rolls out these innovations to the market and in some cases we get the market feedback also,” Britto said.
Jackets take off
It was in the early 2000s that The Times of India introduced the vertical jacket or the half jacket (also known as half flap), which proved popular.
“Advertisers who were doing half vertical page advertisements until then started demanding something exclusive for them and didn’t want to share half the page with the editorial,” Britto said.
“So we worked on this half flap and introduced it to the market. It was quite a big hit. All the advertisers were happy,” he added.
The team then came up with the concept of jackets wherein a full-page ad was carried just below The Times of India masthead.
A number of innovations such as plow-fold, gatefold, french window and so on also followed later.
Developing an inhouse solution
While the half flap was among the biggest hits among advertisers, it still had a couple of problems. Firstly, it could fall off when someone was reading the paper. Secondly, those advertisers who advertised on the back page on a half-flap day faced the problem of readers setting that sheet aside while reading the paper. This meant lost visibility.
So, the BCCL team found a solution – glue these innovations to the paper.
“It would have been easier to go to the market, purchase some glue equipment and put it at our press. But we didn’t do that,” Britto said. “Our inhouse team got thinking, and they developed a system that could perform the same function as those in the market at a fraction of the cost.”
This simple solution in fact proved revolutionary in nature.
“It opened up a plethora of innovations that we couldn’t do before. With gluing, we have done around 160 innovations, which we then offered to the advertisers,” Britto said.
More product innovations, such as GNP jackets (jackets made of glossy paper) and introducing fifth colour in live presses followed.
The GNP jacket story
According to Britto, the GNP (Glazed News Print) jacket or the UV jacket has been one of the star performers in BCCL’s innovations lineup.
The GNP jacket was initially introduced as a four-page jacket. The team, however, soon realised that the advertiser needed only the front page and the last page was only adding to the company’s cost.
“So, our marketing department asked us to give two-page GNP jackets that would be running a quarter reel on a double width press,” Britto said. “It added to the degree of difficulty during night operations. But we conducted trials, did a lot of modifications and using our gluing equipment, glued only two GNPs to the front.”
This seemed to work for everyone. But during the festival season, a new problem cropped up; Two advertisers were demanding GNP jackets on the same day.
So, the team brought back the old four-page jacket. But this time instead of two in the front and two in the back, all four pages were brought to the front.
“This increased our degree of difficulty by four fold, nevertheless, we were able to give GNP jackets to both customers on the same day,” he said.
More requests followed from advertisers who wanted GNPs in the centre of the edition or in other positions. The team carried out some modifications to the hardware in the press so as to be able to offer GNP in any position of the edition. This was called Flexi GNP.
BCCL has been developing products continuously to suit the demand of the advertisers and in response to the market needs. And the team’s innovations keep coming.
“A few weeks ago, we did something for an auto client,” Britto said. “We did all eight pages of GNP in the front, and the inside part of the GNP opened up to be a four-pages wide panorama. It is called a super panorama.”
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