USA Today: Innovation and Evolution in a Troubled Industry

1) What Opportunities in the marketing environment did Gannett seize in launching USA Today? How did the company learn about and respond to the opportunities? Answer these same questions for USATODAY. COM On its debut in 1982, USA Today was reckoned as America’s first National general-interest daily newspaper. Being the global information juggernaut that he is, Gannett managed to identify a gap in the market that he identified as an opportunity for the leading to-be newspaper of the united States.

The opportunity was the void gap in the market. Attention to the business traveler was the least attended to which gave Gannett the opportunity to target such a sector and be the leading supplier of such traveler needs in terms of information. The launch of USA Today was based on two perspectives; the increasingly short attention p as well as the continuous hunger for more information. With both perspectives in mind, the paper was positioned to be a source of information that delivered “more news in less time”.

In response to their customer needs, and the opportunistic gap in the market, USA Today was designed to be a unique paper with easy access to articles and concern for their time-pressed readers through the introduction of columns and snippets that presented the most salient topics of the story. In addition to their colorful contemporary look, USA Today’s ability to be dependably consistent added great value to the paper that lead to a stuttering over-a-million circulation in just seven months.

In an era when most of the major media outlets were suffering from a decline in readership, USA Today enjoyed continuous growth. To offset the rising distributional and promotional costs, USA today ventured in introducing spin offs to increase demand of the print sector. USA. com was one of Gannett’s spin-offs of responding to the information market in relativity to the greater global market. When everyone considered the Internet boom to be the start of an end to the newspaper industry, Gannett managed to transform that threat into an opportunity.

Due to an increase in the newsprint cost, associated with a decrease in the readership rates, USA online was a way to increase readership by offering more ways of satisfying the reader base and ensuring that the mission of USA Today was to be maintained. It capitalized and tried to keep pace with communication and technological breakthroughs to maintain its element of dependable consistency. In response to their commitment of “getting news and information into the hands of consumers faster than ever before”, USA. om endorsed blogs and podcasts to keep customers engaged as well as introducing I-phone, Blackberry and Kindle applications to keep up with the emerging trend of portable technology. 2) How has a continuous strategy of marketing innovation proved successful for USA today and USA. COM? Do you believe that USA today is well-positioned for the future? Explain Since USA Today’s launch, it has ensured the continuous consistency and dependability of the nature of the material, as well as a commitment to continuous innovation.

Ever since its start, USA today has been engaged in continuous improvement and betterment in what they offer to their readers. One of their main focus in their cycle of innovation was keeping the customer engaged in the reading process as well as listening and hearing for their demands. Regarding product innovation, they managed to keep the paper exciting and indulging to the reader in many different ways. For starters, their major innovative design was reducing the size of the paper from 54 to 50 inches, which made the paper more satisfying in terms of size and mobility of use.

There was also a shift in the quality of news from a soft-focused newspaper to a more serious hard-focused newspaper. This was a very important move to the paper as it ensured readers of the quality of news they’re reading and also responded to the critiques of reporters calling USA Today “Mc Paper” which could have negatively affected the readership rates for the way readers could have perceived themselves as targets of “junk food journalism”. Further methods of keeping readers attached to the paper included the introduction of the two hotlines that erved to the queries of readers. Regarding their promotional efforts, after ensuring the success of USA today on a State scale, they aimed at increasing the awareness scope of USA today not only on a National level, but on an international level as well. They introduced the Buscapade to increase awareness in other states, while the Jetcapade was introduced to increase awareness internationally. Both approaches were the start of profitability for USA today, where readership rates increased as well as awareness on both a national and international level.

One of their most successful promotional efforts was blue chip circulation, which not only reaped profits from hotels, airlines and restaurants, but ensured exposure to a greater part of the target market and a raise in the level of awareness. Another move was advertising at the front page. Since its start, USA Today was based on untraditional aspects. Although criticized by many, it nonetheless appealed to its target market that continued to grow. Advertising on the fist page, although sacredly non-valued, and could have imposed a threat on the paper; sabotaging its image of credibility and consistency.

Yet again, it acted as a leverage that further increased the profits of the paper Distribution was also one of the factors that would make or break the paper’s mission of delivering timely news. One competitive advantage the paper had over competitors was its ability to offer more up-to-date news three to four hours before competitors. That was because they permitted later deadlines which was further implemented when production became totally digital which gave writers and publishers greater flexibility and later deadlines, and at the other hand readers enjoyed earlier delivery times.

In a market with threatening competitors such as The New York Times and wall street journal, USA Today was bound to failure if it weren’t for its innovative excellence in its product and promotion along with its dedication to keep engaging the customers in the paper experience by trying to cater for as many needs as possible, and competing with an edge that sets it apart from its competitors. One of USA Today’s product innovations later on became not an just another additional co-asset, but a leading internet-based companion to the USA Today print version.

A threat can only be transformed into an opportunity among a number of competitors when one takes a lead regarding how to deal with such threat. Once you get a lead start, you’re in better opportunistic shape than the competitors. As much as the internet boom imposed a threat at the paper industry, co-opting with the decline in sales and advertising revenue, USA Today used the threat and transformed it into an opportunity by introducing usatoday. com, which was an online version of the print, designed in the same colorful, appealing manner.

It yet had to maintain the same mission and vision of the print version in terms of the quality of material and framework, and respond in the same dedication to customer interests and further engagement. Although different from the original print version, usatoday. com ensured its existence and profoundness in the new market through continuous updates and innovative ways to stimulate readership and cut distribution expenses. It employed blogs and podcasts to ensure the relevancy of news to readers, as well as categorizing and aggregating news on the Internet.

It also allowed advertisers to expand their online space by using “PointRoll” which acted as a leverage that helped advertisers direct consumers to merchants. To further cater for the readers needs, usatoday. com capitalized on the emerging trend of portable technology by launching applications that serve I Phone, Blackberry and kindle users. They also catered for social media tools fanatics which as indicated by internal sources were drivers for page view increases such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

To further nourish the reader’s needs, they made room from readers to search for their unique interests and further bond with similar individuals. For example, they introduced “network journalism” which was a tool that allowed readers to comment and make recommendations. The previous example shows the necessity for an entity to continuously satisfy its customers and think of more innovative ways to help users develop attachment and brand loyalty. USA Today, being the entity that it is, is apparently well positioned for the current period.

Ever since its debut, it has managed to maintain a proper and sturdy positioning among its competitors, with its competitive innovation and continuous responses to the evolving market. But at such point, when Internet has taken over the greater part of our lives, one has to ponder over the validity of the current positioning of USA Today. If it maintains the way its positioned for another five to ten years, it will be bound to close down for the trend is going further towards a digitally internet based era, where there will be no room for the traditional print version to compete.

Its positioning should gradually and not instantly completely shift to an internet focus. The reason it should be done gradually is due to the fact that there still is a great part of readership that prefers the print. Instantly shifting to the internet would result in losing a great part of customers which USA Today wouldn’t want. The shift should be gradual to allow customers to accept the shift and not look for another product for if customers perceive that USA Today is lacking their interest, it would be crucial for its popularity and acceptance. ) What are the SWOT implications for USA Today as it looks toward the future? What strengths and opportunities can USA Today leverage as it looks for competitive advantage in the distribution of news and information?

Strenghts: * America’s first National general interest daily newspaper. This will be an important factor that USA today should leverage and take advantage of the fact of its established name in the field, giving it more perceived establishment and stability rather than its competitors. Part of the Global information Juggernaut Gannett Co, which autonomously gives it more credibility and makes more room for excellence in the future as opposed to single-unit paper with no backing up from stronger, further well established players in the media marketplace. * Buscapade/Jetscapade lead to the overseas success of the paper and lead to an increase in demand, which lead to a start of profitability. * It gives room for later deadlines, which gives it a competitive advantage over its competitors in terms of the quality of news and how fast it reaches readers.

This could be leveraged in the future as a reminder of how dedicated USA Today was and has been to its readers, implying its consistency and how its different from its competitors. * USA Today has already leveraged the internet boom into its benefit by introducing one-to-many spin offs, one of which I believe will take over USA Today operations in ten years time; usatoday. com. Excellence is derived from experience, and since usatoday. com has been thriving among a list of other sites is an indicator of how efficient the site is and how with the right innovative combination could dominate the market. Being the first to realize the business traveler gap in the market, it would be very hard for new entrants to enter and try to steal a part of USA Today’s market pie. * Continuous growth is also a great indicator of the paper for ever since its start, its audience has been constantly growing to topple over WSJ and NYT.

Thus when USA Today looks at the future, it will have more reason to attract customers than its competitors. Weaknesses: * It took USA Today no less than five years to start entering into the profitability stage, which further reduced its ability to generate enough cash flow for future investments. The re cession, although affected everyone, caused a slump in tourism which affected the business traveler market, causing a decrease in flights, which automatically lead to a decrease in demand by airlines, hotels and restaurants. * Its reputation as a “Mc Junk” paper during its start could have unanimously affected the papers reputation and determined not only how readers perceive the quality of articles, but who reads it as well. * At one point in the cycle, WSJ reclaimed its position as number one paper, circulation wise. Opportunities: The Internet boom is considered to be double barreled. It will either make or break usatoday.

So far, USA Today managed to straddle it by introducing usatoday. com along with its multiple applications and reader-friendly engagement processes. The internet is the most vital opportunity for is USA Today doesn’t manage it properly, with the right innovation and research, competitors will gain more market share, and readers will prefer the more up to date way of getting info. * Technological advancements will make room for greater breakthroughs and eaves room for innovation and further updating products. * The technological and portable technology trend should be taken as an advantage, in integrating USA Today in the lives of readers. * Social network sites being one of the drivers for page view increases should be properly utilized to maintain page views and further increase traffic on the site. * The ability to use recycled fiber will improve the environmental background of the company as well as decrease the cost of newsprint, making production more efficient.

Threats: * ) Based on USA Today’s experiences with the print and online news, evaluate the long term potential of printed news and the newspaper publishing industry. Do you believe printed newspapers will continue to survive despite digital competition? So far, USA Today has managed to maintain and keep up with the technological trends that have been leading the market place for years now. As for the industry itself, it has already been threatened excessively by the internet boom showing declines in sales, readership and advertising revenue. And that’s just for now.

Who knows how technologically driven customers will be five or ten years from now? Prints might compose part of the market share which has been undoubtedly decreasing over the past couple of years, for the mere fact that elderly, more traditionally oriented readers would not make the switch. That is not to imply that elders are the only readers of prints, but the ones that are unlikely to make the switch. People in their mid thirties and forties will be able to make the change gradually, more smoother than sixty and seventy year olds.

The only way to maintain its survival despite digital competition is to cater for the needs of the emerging youth. The only way to ensure existence is by guaranteeing that they can target the youth for without them, USA Today loses hope of ever having the slightest of a susceptible target market. As for the prospects of the industry, it seems as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Internet has now taken over our lives in so many different ways; being a viable source that ensures acquiring information in much faster and more efficient way. The whole idea is how to craft an imposing threat into an opportunity. Usatoday. om was an example, but with the rate of change, and how the trend is diffusing more towards a digitally based environment, prospects for USA Today from the print perspective has no hope. The youth, being a massive factor in how products are produced and marketed, is a reason why prospects for the print industry seem unlikely. Being Internet focused as they are, they will remain to evolve and with their evolvement comes the evolvement of their wants and needs which will be technologically based. Hence, ten years from now, its seem less probable that the grown up youth will demand anything less that whats technologically available at the time.

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