Everyman’s almanac thrives on consistency

One day at a time: Co-founder Jayraj Salgaokar (below) credits the Kalnirnay brand’s popularity to its ability to innovate.

One day at a time: Co-founder Jayraj Salgaokar (below) credits the Kalnirnay brand’s popularity to its ability to innovate.

In the 1980s, an Indore-based man dragged the publishers of Kalnirnay to court. His peeve was that the almanac carried an advertisement of ‘Tees Chaap beedi’ and the fact that he hung it near the tiny temple in his home was upsetting. “That legal case made us realise how people perceived us,” said 65-year-old Jayraj Salgaokar, the co-founder, publisher and managing director of Kalnirnay , a calendar almanac that has become a household name and reaches more than one crore Indians. The Salgaokars credit it to the brand’s ability to innovate and still remain consistent.

“Along with the growing population and literacy, we have experienced growth,” said Mr. Salgaokar. “Utility is the essence of the content we publish. We don’t publish anything that has no utility and we have been consistent with that,” he added. Started in 1973, Kalnirnay blended the Gregorian and Indian calenders, traditional almanac ( panchang ) and peppered the pages with an assortment of forecasts, literary articles, recipes, home remedies and tips. “Our content has been niche. We have the best of writers and experts contributing for us,” said Mr. Salgaokar, adding that the team keeps researching and planning throughout the year. “You can call it a mini-encyclopedia or a planner hanging on your wall,” he added.

The 2020 Marathi Kalnirnay has articles on mutual funds, one-minute exercises, oral health and recipes for nachni buns, roti sticks and salsa dips. According to Mr. Salgaokar, the Marathi edition is the flagship product while all the others are “cruisers and destroyers” to support the flagship and limit the entry of competitors. Thus, one can find Kalnirnay in seven languages and multiple sizes to fit wallets, office cubicles or cars. There are also special editions titled Arogya and Swadistha focussed on health and food respectively. “Bathroom is the only space that we have not explored yet,” he quipped.

Jayraj Salgaonkar at his office in Dadar

Jayraj Salgaonkar at his office in Dadar

The flagship product sold 25,000 copies in the inaugural year and today sells more than 70 lakh copies. All editions put together, the Audit Bureau of Circulation pegs overall sales at 1.8 crore, according to Kalnirnay .

The team seeks to introduce a new variant every year. For 2020, Mr. Salgaokar said the publisher had ventured into the popular cult of Swami Samarth and rolled out the Avadoot Panchang edition. “All the products that we launched are not alive today, we have to drop some midway. But we continue to innovate,” he said, adding that observations and suggestions from the users had been crucial drivers of change.

It was during a stroll in Dadar that Mr. Salgaokar observed young boys shouting “ Kalnirnay ghya na” to sell the product. “That gave birth to the popular television jingle ‘ Kalnirnay dya na, Kalnirnay ghya na’, ” he said. On a visit to a professor’s home in the early ’80s, Mr. Salgaokar noticed that the dates of shravan were marked in yellow as a reminder. That observation prompted colouring of important, auspicious dates. He gradually designed the symbols for important occasions. He recalled that the symbol for ekadashi was a swastik, but a huge consignment of Kalnirnay was rejected as the symbol was perceived as a Nazi sign by the Jews. “The swastik was then replaced by a warkari flag,” said Mr. Salgaokar.

Kalnirnay is released on the first day of Navratri every year and most of the sales take place by January 15. “But sometimes we get bulk orders during April-May,” said Mr. Salgaokar’s daughter Shakti, who is executive director at the publishing company.

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Printable version | Aug 18, 2022 5:37:34 pm |