The new value-driven consumer and changing retailer strategies pose challenges for many retail product categories, including magazines.
The upside: They also open new opportunities for magazines to partner with retailers to achieve specific chain objectives, as well as boost magazine sales.
That was the core message from two speakers in a print-focused session during this year’s Publishing Business Conference & Expo: Jay Annis, VP trade sales, books and magazines for Taunton Press and president of the Periodical and Book Association of America (PBAA), and Jerry Lynch, president of the International Periodical Distributors Association (IPDA).
Annis and Lynch summarized factors that have contributed to declining magazine retail sales since the recession hit. These include consumer cutbacks on impulse-driven products of all kinds, and grocery retailers’ greater focus on necessities/perishable items, which has resulted in reduced space or less favorable locations for magazine mainlines (and other general merchandise products) in many supermarkets and supercenters.
Those two retail channels, they pointed out, continue to account for nearly 50% of all magazines sold (about 34% and 14%, respectively).
But their emphasis was on ways to leverage magazines’ unique strengths at retail. Some of their key points:
Design Programs That Support Retailer Objectives
What do retailers want? Programs that can drive sales and traffic and, importantly, given the heightened competition for the grocery dollar from retail channels ranging from club stores to drug and dollar stores, ways to differentiate themselves and create customer loyalty. “The core point is to engage the retailer around serving and exciting our mutual consumer,” stressed Lynch.
To do this, publishers need to understand individual retailers’ specific priorities, and build programs around those. Some possible approaches include magazine coupons that tie in with retailer loyalty programs, point-of-purchase displays for hot issues, new formats and items like bookazines and themed spin-offs/SIPs; and special events like editor appearances and coordinated seasonal tie-ins cross-promoting magazines and related products in the store.