i, independent, launch, retailers, marginsThis week’s launch of i in the UK has received a broadly favourable welcome from the experts – buyers of advertising space and media planners – and a cautious welcome from news retailers.

Taking a leaf from the Bauer book of launching to a mass market, the paper has offered retailers double margin for the first week and flooded the market with more than 100,000 free copies for the first two weeks – distributed in the evening. This tactic still seems to have wrong-footed some local retailers, who have withheld support from the newspaper because they simply do not trust publishers to treat them straight.

However, it is probably a better rule of thumb for retailers to be positive about all launches because the ones that interest shoppers are ones that they should want to take part in. As it is half term, I was on holiday on Tuesday and it was interesting that a number of people mentioned the launch to me, suggesting that the Independent’s marketing had worked in terms of generating interest.

Michael Skapinker, writing in the FT, recorded a recent debate at the University of St Andrews where the motion was that print media (books, newspapers, magazines) are dead. How did the students vote? Ten said print was dead, 102 said that it would live on. This may reflect their attitudes rather than their behaviour but a 20p newspaper might help turn an attitude into a behaviour.

What does it mean for local retailers? If i helps to attract some younger readers to the newsstand, that is good news – both in terms of footfall and of profit potential.