MagNet Report Shows Strength in Mid-Tier Magazine Titles
Unfortunately, once again the MagNet report indicates that the single copy is facing another crisis. Unit sales are down 10.2% and dollars are down 7.6%. Yet, as MagNet reports, the top 100 titles contributed significantly to that decline.
The story isn't that bad for titles that rank 100 to 1,000. According to the report: “In aggregate, the group of titles ranked between 100 and 1,000 actually increased in sales during the fourth quarter 2015 when compared to the sales of titles that fell within the same segment during fourth quarter 2014.”
I reviewed the sales of my clients and I am proud to say that most had significant increases compared to their categories.
- My business title sales are up 6.7% comparing fourth quarters while the business category is down 17.1%.
- My beer title is up 54% while the food/wine category is down 16.7%.
- An alternative health title is up 33% versus the health category which is down 9.3%.
- And an art title I represent sales are up 10.4%, bucking the entire newsstand category.
How could this happen when the industry apparently is in a free fall? By working with the national distributors, the wholesalers, and the retailers to improve position by implementing "old time" distribution techniques: notifying the distribution channels of local interest stories to increase distribution in specific markets; taking advantage of promotional opportunities that make sense using historical sales figures and competitive information; working on distributions that match the demographics of the audience; and lastly working as a team with the art directors and editors to tweak covers, to make them more of a direct response vehicle as well as an artistic canvas.
Unfortunately not everything will result in increased sales. Sometimes art directors and publishers are insulted by my candid comments. Weather events will close entire regions down and some issues just bombed no matter what was done. However, overall efforts resulted in increased sales and profits.
Other publishers and consultants are doing this, or should be doing this, to build sales and performance.
I don't want to sound like Pollyanna, but as an industry we can turn sales around effectively and efficiently. It may require tweaking the distribution rules slightly, opening positions at the checkout, and educating the entire distribution system on publisher economics. There is a common notion that small publishers have supplemental advertising revenues like the major publishing companies that can offset newsstand expenses, when in reality, because they are small, their cost of goods, from paper to postage and even office expenses are much higher than the larger publishers.
The industry is alive and kicking, we just have to learn a few new dance steps.
John Morthanos is a circulation consultant specializing in niche and
special interest publications. He was Vice President Specialty Sales at
Curtis Circulation Company, Vice President Single Copy Sales at Primedia
Special Interest Publications and Cowles Magazines, Circulation Director
at Viare Publishing, and Circulation Marketing Director at Ziff Davis