The Real Story About Print Sales at Retail
In a frenzied, media-rich world, it becomes very easy to embrace each new content-delivery system as though it will become the next, and only, big thing. Massive investments? Of course. Proven results? Not so sure. Strong revenue streams? Not yet. Paywalls rather than free content? Still hoping.
Yet print continues as a thriving, profitable business for publishers; so what's the real story about print sales at retail?
Fact #1: Consumers LOVE print magazines—and value them!
● 84% of U.S. adults read magazines.
● Print brings knowledge and passion together, in an affordable, portable, tactile package that delights the eye and the mind.
● Readers have a long-term commitment to print brands, with loyalty that's proven with full-price issue purchases at retail.
● In a world of technology temptations and distractions—social media, Web, tablets, e-readers and even television—millions of people purchase magazines every week, spending lots of time with each issue, and sharing with friends and family.
● Consumers trust advertising and editorial in magazines more than any other media.
Fact #2: Savvy Retailers LOVE print magazines—and value them!
● Magazines offer superior profitability to retailers, especially when viewed versus other general merchandise categories.
● Retail magazines sell at "full price," so consumers vote for their print passions with their wallets.
● Each magazine issue is a "new" product with great visual appeal; a cover is perceived by the consumer as the gateway to a new experience to explore. Hundreds of "new" products are delivered to retailers each week.
● Magazines are still good value, allowing customers to enjoy a low-priced "treat" in hard times.
● Consumers buying magazines return to the store and purchase featured recipe ingredients, project materials and supplies, featured fashion and accessories, etc.
● Marketers are just beginning to tap the vein of enhanced sales of other products at retail through leveraging the brand value and trust of magazine advertising and merchandising and digital tie-ins.
● Technology, including sales' scan data, allows for maximizing magazine selection and sales.
Fact #3: Digital and print are complementary, not cannibalistic!
● Growth in formats other than print is only rapid when measured in percentages, not in aggregated numbers, while in these early adoption days.
● No mathematical relationship exists between newsstand losses and gains in other delivery platforms.
● More than three-quarters of those reading magazines digitally still express a desire to own a print copy.
● A publisher's obligation is to extend its brands, not replace them.
● Newsstand issues remain relevant and recognizable by being extended into all the other ways people consume media.
● Publishing ownership continues to invest in its print brands, and support retail sales.
Fact #4: It's the economy, stupid!
● Every economic environment is unique—don't be fooled into thinking you can predict future trends by past performance.
● Did you ever try to track gasoline prices and overlay magazine sales at retail? Try it.
● Purchasing habits have changed in this economy—we need to learn from this, and think outside of the box to find our readers wherever and whenever they shop.
● In a 1% + 99% socioeconomic world, it is vital to know which audience you are targeting, and have the right product, at the right price, in the right stores, at the right time.
● Many vital U.S. brands began in tough economic times, and have survived and thrived as the economy recovered.
So do you still think that digital is "cleaning our clock?" Well, you're wrong … and there's so much more that you should know. Come to our Publishing Business Conference & Expo panel in New York on March 20 at 1:15 p.m. (visit PublishingBusiness.com for more information), and also join us at the 2012 Retail Marketplace Conference in Baltimore, June 10-12 (visit PBAA.net for details). PE
Lisa Scott is the executive director of the Periodical & Book Association of America (PBAA). Jay Annis is vice president, Trade Sales, The Taunton Press, and president, PBAA.