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The Niche Sunday Newspaper Treads Where Angels Fear with Focus to Conquer

It is often advised that it’s unwise to swim against the tide. This school of thought believes that if you follow the direction of the tide, you gain momentum coming from the flow and your enterprise might be able to move and grow faster. However, contrary to this school, the focus school led by Al Ries …American marketing writer, would rather advise: “focus and conquer” – ignore the tide! In his bestselling book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, co-author Ries argued that focus is "the most powerful concept in marketing. Ries has taken the focus concept one step further - Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It. 

Focus and Conquer

A group of professional Journalists in the most unusual manner are treading this path which angels fear to tread. Yes, they are out with the preview edition of their well-produced – The Niche on Sunday, they have since released 2 editions of the weekly.  The Niche, the Sunday Newspaper is in full swing.

As the name implies The Niche is exclusive and focused on specific segments of the population, it is not for every class of the reading public. It’s news, articles, features and opinions are targeted at the upper echelon of the socio-economic class covering the A,B and C segments.  Others can read but it will be aspirational to them.  

Within the spectrum of the target audience, The Niche offers something for the every member of the family. That is the publication, to me, the publication presents something for every member of the family– children, mummies and daddies. 

The Compartments

The compartments in the pre view edition under review are vast and varied, there are a deluge of them.  For instance, From the News section which spans 7 pages, to Diplomacy, Politics provides the cover for the preview with its expansive 2-pages interview with MD Yesufu featuring a nolstagic, back in the day headline ‘Our days in the Police’ while the main cover features  a story with the headline ‘Nigeria not practicing Democracy’. The cover displays good uses of pictures but the pictures are suspects just as the print quality is.

Another section reflects the spirit of the time.  Confab provides another well produced segment however the extensive contribution by Ben Nwabueze covering 2 pages was broken by an interview with Okei-Odumakin - ‘Why Boko Haram targets women, Children’ without  a hint of notification to the reader.  A reader who probably bumps into the interview and finishes will be at a loss when he looks up to the next page and becomes clueless on what is happening on the next page (see pages 18 – 19). 

Analysis; Encounter; ‘Big Issue’ all produced in breezy, well laid out pages of features provide the detailed and analytical mind some kernel of the happenings in the nation. Same can be said of Parliament, Interview, From the states and The Grassroots.  Similarly, through other segments like The Agenda, The Diaspora, Profile and Encounter, The Niche in vivid details lend its new and  refreshing voice to some of conversations going on in different sections of the economy and country as a whole. 

Contrary to the expansive mode of presentation, the editorials are rather too short – infact, the two presented in the preview edition under review –‘Voting impasse at the Conference’ and ‘Plantations of horror’ hardly filled half a page. Ikechuku Amaechi, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief and Oguwike Nwachukwu, Executive Editor have their columns ‘Candour’s Niche’ and ‘On the beat’ respectively gracing the Oped pages of the Newspaper.

The Business section of the Newspaper spanned 7pages in the preview edition, though might be considered inadequate for a weekly newspaper, the above average layout compensates for this. The lead story here talks about the precarious situation in which our dear NIPOST has found itself.  Sections like Business Unusual, Personal finance and Marketing Niche will make good read any day. 

The Spotlight, like the section before it,  reflects same fine art. It offers the reader diverse contents built around people, culture, food, fashion, entertainment and health. For instance the cover parades Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko of Camara Studios, ‘Food & Drink’ to say the least is enticingly mouthwatering in content and layout! ‘Ask Tinu’ and ‘Soulmate’ are relationship centric. Research has proved this to attract readers especially in the relaxing mood that the weekend provides. ‘Art’ as constant as the Northern star is also represented in the Publication.

As a Sunday Newspaper, it publishes a Faith section with a preview feature titled “Praising Jesus Christ, Worshipping Pastors”. The pages are bound to become a popular read if stories like this are published as the norm on these pages. Health in the edition under review takes a look at ‘Taming the silent Killer – Hypertension’. They all make interesting read as they add value to the reader, I bet. 

Kiddies Arena with Temitope David-Adegboye is inspiring and motivational for our kids. However, it is noted that The Fashion and Entertainment pages are nothing out of the ordinary but it is hoped that the weeks ahead should speak better things for these pages, to some these are some of the most concentrated areas attention during weekends. The publication needs some pep up around these areas. Sport section as another popular section, is publications is coming up fine. Across 7 pages, it touches mostly on general sports and personalities, foreign and local news in the arena.  This is sure a sign of good things to come.  On the average, The Niche on Sunday provides a good read especially with its exclusive stories. 

The Market is Not Saturated but here is the Challenge…

Why venture into brick and mortal publishing especially in the face of perceived market saturation? The Managing Director provides an answer, ‘The market may seem saturated, but in truth it is not. Nigeria has a population of over 160 million with quite sizeable of this educated. Despite the available large number of readers, all newspapers in the country do not print 200,000 copies on a daily basis thus disproving the erroneous theory of saturation”. 

Drawing inspiration from lesser populated countries, Amaechi tells a gathering of select Journalists The Nation of Kenya alone does 500,000 copies daily, while another publication in Turkey over 1 million print run on a daily basis thus summing that its either Nigerians are not reading or the Newspapers are not giving what the readers want.

To fill the gap in the 6 days vacuum between each edition of the publication, www.thenitcheng.com provides regular updates and news it breaks on the website. Hence, readers hocked on the publication can visit the portal regularly to catch up with the latest news. The site is highly interactive and navigation is relatively easy.   

Having duly spotted the gap, the team says it is not out to reinvent the wheel, but it is poised to make it better.  “We are totally against the ‘buy one, buy all’ slant of the Nigerian newspapers. We will dwell heavily on exclusives through investigative journalism”.

Ideas Rule the World, here is our Niche

Ideas rule the world, the team which also includes Olumide Iyanda, Executive Editor, hinged their operation on the fact that the publication is filling a vacuum which currently exists in the industry. “There is a Niche in the market we need to fill, the newspaper is our idea of filling the vacuum”

Nice vision, to have an exclusive Sunday Newspaper, which is actually the first in the country and rightly to be modeled after The Observer of London which has published as a Sunday Newspaper for over 300 years. Then I begin to wonder about its sustainability!  

Here is the real Competition

The fact is that The Niche Sunday Newspaper is out to contest the market with the very many Sunday versions of the avalanche of national dailies that control the soul of newspapers reading publics. These  successful publications include The Guardian, The Punch, Thisday, The Nation and Vanguard to mention but a few. The publications apart from being well produced have perfected the art of Sunday pull-outs which centre on Fashion and Entertainment. Meanwhile, this all the more raises the market entry barrier and essentially raises competition against the new entrant.  In view of this, The Niche Sunday Newspaper has to contend with this issue as a matter of urgency to gain the trust of the market. 

Rare ownership structure

Unlike most newspapers which are politically motivated and backed by political money bags, The Niche as far as we can tell is professionally motivated with a few core professionals investing their wealth of experience into the berthing a new kind of publication.  Iyanda puts this clearer “We are just a group of Journalists coming to push this through together. Trying to build a family in which all are stakeholders. The enterprise is founded by Journalists”. As much as this appears a strength, it compels the investors to map out sustainable funding design that will not compromise the rare vision of the publication. 

Play Up Your Differentiation with a Purpose

In recent times, we have seen publications get into turbulent waters not minding the fact they are backed by money bags, the onus rests on the team to make good their vision and quickly write The Niche to fame and success by attracting advertisers promptly. As a weekly, it’ll probably requires more work to attain this height than the regular commonplace publications. The truth is, The Niche’s differentiation has to be a lot more pronounced than manifested in the preview edition to be the cutting edge the team envisages. Nice start with lots of promise.