Newspapers, fridges, grapes and 7 series BMWs

Like the rest of the planet, Malaysian consumers are spending more time online and this has seen a dramatic fall in the circulation of newspapers.

The New Straits Times, the oldest newspaper in Malaysia and once the pride of the industry has been through at least two ‘rebrands’ in the last 10 years but this has failed to stop circulation plummet to 55,000 copies a day in 2015.

Recent reports have put the circulation as low as 35,000 copies a day towards the end of 2016. It’s hard to find current figures which suggests things are not going well.

Back in January 2017 we encountered what may be a global first when we opened a copy of the New Straits Times, and with the exception of a 1/8th of a page ad, didn’t see any significant paid for advertising!

Meanwhile the Star newspaper isn’t fairing quite so badly with a circulation around the 250,000 mark. In the 22nd April 2017 edition there were a number of full page ads and even a double page spread.

These ads were selling everything from grapes to fridges to laptops and detergents and not forgetting the out of place table in the Tesco ad.

Selling grapes, laptops, fridges and a table on a Saturday.

I presume these hypermarkets and discount stores are using these low end, low value products to lure housewives to stores in the hope they will buy higher margin goods once there.

Nothing wrong with that and they’ve been a feature of The Star on Saturday for many years. But if that’s the case, and the readership of The Star on a Saturday largely consists of housewives getting ready to do the weekly shop, why is there an ad for the BMW 7 series in the middle of all these ‘cheap as chips’ ads?

Is this the new housewives choice in Malaysia? Recession, what recession?

The BMW 7 series starts at RM600,000 (US$136,000) while the top of the line model is a few pennies under RM800,000 (US$182,000). Not really the housewife segment. Either the hypermarkets are in the wrong place or BMW is. What do you think?