La Teja is a popular Costa Rican newspaper that has grown quickly and become the second largest source of revenue for Grupo Nación, the biggest media group in the country.

When it started six years ago, La Teja intended to become a successful business primarily through circulation growth. Instead, it has achieved its success with surprisingly strong revenue from advertising and activations.

The secret ingredients to this ongoing sustainable success have been:

  • Being creative.
  • Knowing our audience.
  • Talking the same language.
  • Publishing extraordinary, creative content that surprises the audience.

As background, Grupo Nación was founded 67 years ago by its main newspaper, La Nación, and has grown its portfolio to include: Al Día, a sports newspaper, Web site, and radio programme; multiple events; six magazines; a weekly financial platform; and four radio stations.

Costa Rica’s 4.5 million population is segmented; 50% of Costa Rican families make between US$200 and US$1,000 monthly, 20% make less than US$200, 25% earn between US$1,000 and US$3,000, and 5% earn more than US$3,000.

Six years ago, research told us that about 500,000 people in these lower segments were not reading newspapers at all, so we set out to talk to a target audience we did not know.

La Teja was carefully crafted for differentiation from the popular formula for newspapers in Latin America. It promised to tell a compelling story, to entertain with utilitarian and humourous content, and to prove there was no need for blood. 

The results of our first year? Our circulation reached 77,000 with an advertising income of US$450,000. While originally conceptualised to reach the lower-income market, the newspaper has won over a large part of the middle-class market as well.

Advertisers, though, were quite skeptical about investing in this audience. So we persisted on these things:

  • The heroes of our stories are everyday people. We consistently work on making life easier for our readers — that’s our slogan, actually.
  • We keep the focus on in-depth, original reporting, and always come at everyday news from a fresh angle with a particular and unique style.
  • Content is curious, entertaining, and very utilitarian with a bright and cheerful design.
  • We keep the price low, of course (una teja): $0.20 colones.

  • We run a daily promotion of US$200, which increases to US$400 on weekends. Readers call in a number listed in a corner on the front page of the newspaper every day, to activate a unique code.

    We work on the credibility of the promotion by telling the story of a winner on page 10: who won the prize, what they did to win, where they bought the newspaper, etc. In all, 25% of our total circulation participates in the daily prize or the promotion.
  • We have created three or more promotions per month, not only based on our plan as a product but on the advertising clients’ needs: Mothers Day, Motorcycles for Fathers Day, houses, health promos, all seeking to help our target audience make ends meet. 
  • We have created events like La Teja Bailable, where people from the communities come to dance, sing, and have a good time without having to spend their money. We have been able to get advertisers be part of this, and we also sell newspapers in the events.

 After reaching this target audience through the years:

  • We have grown to a total readership of 760,000 daily and US$8 million a year in advertising revenue.
  • Our total daily circulation today is near 140,000.

  • Our advertisers have begun believing and frequently run daily ads. They have found a target that could not have been reached and have confirmed excellent results.

We have increased rates every six months because of these results.

What’s next?

La Q Teja, our radio station, is the first step to a brand extension. La Q Teja is a formula mainly of popular music that matches the preferences of our target market, and different programmes intended to make people’s lives easier.

We already have six brands engaged in the project, and we are beginning to build audience.

After all, we cannot forget who is behind every story, every piece of news, every event, and every platform: our audience.