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Daily slashes cover price by 50pc in one-day experiment

A regional daily is evaluating the results of a one-day experiment that saw it slash its cover price by almost 50pc.

As three Newsquest titles prepared to unveil sharp increases in cover price from today, the Local World-owned Derby Telegraph reduced its own price from 43p to 20p for a single day.

Bosses said the experiment, which took place on Friday June 21, resulted in sales increasing by around 13pc.

The paper is now considering repeating the exercise with potential help from a commercial sponsor as it assesses whether to move to a variable pricing model.

Managing director Steve Hall said the paper had already seen significant sales increases from experimenting with the price of its city centre vendor copies over recent months.

The Telegraph has also trialled reductions through selected retailers, with similar results.

Said Steve: “We wanted to understand whether an adjustment in price on the full run would yield similar results.

“We are encouraged by the lift we experienced and will reflect on the opportunities that this might present to engage with a section of the Derby audience that is clearly very sensitive to price.”

Steve made clear there would be no immediate change in the paper’s general cover price strategy with a 2p increase to 45p budgeted for later in the year.

However he said he and his team would now be debating the merits of variable pricing as either a strategic or tactical tool.

“It may be that there is a model to encourage long-term sale on particular days through keener pricing,” said Steve.

“It may also be that there is further value, in terms of product sampling and additional commercial response, from repeating this kind of exercise.

“Our advertising team offset the cost of lost cover-price revenue on Friday by selling a supplement packed with offers from local businesses that mirrored the bargain paper theme.

“We’ve also had conversations with a major advertiser who was so taken by the initiative that he has suggested sponsoring a repeat.”

Variable pricing models have already been adopted by two of the biggest regional dailies over recent years.

Earlier this year, the Birmingham Mail unveiled plans to give away 50,000 copies for free in the highest footfall areas of Birmingham city centre on Fridays, while the Manchester Evening News distributes free copies on both Thursdays and Fridays.

By contrast, a number of Newsquest titles have announced cover price hikes since the start of the year.

The Oxford Mail, Worcester News and South Wales Argus are all increasing their prices from 45p to 65p from today, following a similar increase by the Lancashire Telegraph last month.

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