The London Evening Standard is dropping its 50p cover price next week to become a freesheet.
After a high profile relaunch earlier this year which saw circulation initially dip 20% before recovering 12% this is a big gamble on the part of its Russian owners. There are a wealth of other daily publications in London (including LondonLite and Metro) and with more and perhaps better content available on mobile devices and the Internet, this was inevitable.
Maybe the movement to free was brought about by the influx of dating ads, suduko and a decline in credible journalism. Whatever the reason, one of the capital’s flagship brands has had to modernise with the times with no guarantee of success in the future.
Giving away a product for free carries incredible risks not least in how your product is perceived, the value it holds and in terms of The Standard, the inability to develop and engage with its customer base on a meaningful level. Commercially, there should always be a reason for giving something away – to reward, entice, convert, cross sell or up sell.
The Standard will be hoping an increase in readership will be an attractive draw to advertisers.