INTERNANIONAL: MEDIUM OF THE MONTH - Karen Yates charts the success of the Financial Times’s efforts to expand its global readership

Pearson’s efforts to build a strong international brand out of the Financial Times has, it seems, begun to bear fruit. For the first time in its 100-year history, sales of the international edition of the pink paper now outstrip those at home.

Pearson’s efforts to build a strong international brand out of the

Financial Times has, it seems, begun to bear fruit. For the first time

in its 100-year history, sales of the international edition of the pink

paper now outstrip those at home.



The principal reason for this has been the canny mix of price cuts,

editorial changes and marketing efforts used on the US market over the

past year, a move inspired by Pearson’s new chief executive, Marjorie

Scardino. The Texas-born Scardino is credited with having made the

Economist a must-read in North America, and she has made it a priority

to do the same for the FT.



The FT has published in the US since the mid 80s, but sales never

reached much more than 40,000 a day. So last year Scardino dispatched

Richard Lambert, the FT’s editor-in-chief, to New York to sort things

out. Lambert tweaked the design of the North American edition, increased

editorial staff, launched a marketing drive and, in February, slashed

the cover price from dollars 1.50 to dollars 1.00.



It seems to have worked. Circulation soared in the Americas by more than

50 per cent to nearly 57,000 according to this summer’s ABC figures. And

although this appears to be slim fare against the Wall St Journal’s 1.8

million, the FT claims the WSJ is not a direct competitor.



’We didn’t set out to compete with the WSJ. What we want to do is

provide a good global perspective, to run alongside the WSJ,’ a FT

spokeswoman explains. Much of the FT’s recent success, she says, is

because world events really have been shaping the economy in recent

months. The American public have wanted to know more about turmoil in

Russia, for example, and the collapse in Asia.



Another factor, she adds, is that the FT is edited as a coherent whole,

although it appears as three different editions - Americas, Europe/Asia

and the UK. Each has the same basic design, and draws on the same pool

of stories and features and is tweaked for local markets.



A similar success in Europe has begun to unsettle the competition - the

Guardian International last month reinvented itself as Guardian

Europe.



FINANCIAL TIMES CIRCULATION

                           Mar-Aug 98   Mar-Aug 97   % chg

Rep Ireland/other ex UK         4,859        4,088    18.9

Europe, Africa, Mid East      107,898       93,079    15.9

Americas                       56,939       37,235    52.9

Asia                           14,024       10,936    28.2

TOTAL (non-UK)                183,720      145,338    26.4

UK                            173,983      171,541     1.4

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations



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