Helsingin Sanomat reinvents print newspaper for children

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, USA


Appealing to future generations is a concern facing all news media companies. With more subscribers accessing their news digitally, children are no longer being exposed to newspapers as a daily habit. The consequences are already being seen among news media brands, and Helsingin Sanomat decided to do something about it.

The Helsinki-based newspaper’s solution was to expand its existing sub-brand, HS Lasten uutiset (“Children’s news”), and create a separate weekly newspaper that would appeal to children ages 8 to 12.

Helsingin Sanomat had been providing news for children both as a section in the newspaper and on television for about four years. In addition to being a long-term investment toward acquiring future subscribers, the company saw the potential for it to become a successful and profitable stand-alone product.

It was a bold idea, given that no other children’s newspaper existed in the Finnish market, so there was no way to gauge how it would be received. And, although many children were already familiar with the HS Lasten uutiset brand, parents — who would be the ones paying for the subscriptions — were less likely to be aware of it.

Vesa Lindqvist, strategic partnerships manager, said the team was fully aware of the challenges it faced in launching a print publication. 

“We faced a well-grounded criticism: How can we be thinking of launching a print product for kids born in the 2010s — why not a digital product?” Lindqvist said. But they reviewed results of similar projects in other markets, conducted thorough customer research,  and tested the concepts on their own children.

“Launching a print product for kids in 2020 required a strong mind and a powerful vision,” he said. Helsingin Sanomat proved it had both.

Speed to market

To ensure success, it was important to create a launch campaign that would entice parents to want to buy it for their children. That meant being able to develop a solid product that was backed by a marketing campaign designed to appeal to both parents and children.

The campaign objectives focused primarily on subscriptions, and those we set based on market potential, readership studies, and the results of previous product launches. The pre-sale target required they convert 2% of the target group immediately, with a goal of converting 4% of the target population by the end of the year.

Being able to reach those goals would make HS Lasten uutiset the biggest weekly newspaper in Finland.  

The marketing campaign was designed to appeal to both children and their parents.
The marketing campaign was designed to appeal to both children and their parents.

Not just child’s play

Despite the initial skepticism they faced, the campaign more than met all expectations. Sales made during the pre-sale period exceeded the target goal by 100%, which means they reached the end-of-year target goal immediately. Sales development continued into the fall, and the end-of-year subscription goal was exceeded by 78%.

The marketing campaign was closely monitored and drew favourable responses from subscribers. Post-campaign surveys showed 68% of respondents enjoyed the campaign and felt it conveyed such attributes as curiosity, joyfulness, responsibility, and excitement.

This additional product also improved the identity of the brand, as people saw it as more diverse, interesting, intelligent, and insightful. In fact, four out of five respondents said the campaign had given them a better opinion of the Helsingin Sanomat brand.

And, even better, this has created an opportunity to reach the next generation of readers and turn them into loyal subscribers for life. 

About Paula Felps

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