The Circular Aspect of All Things

What is old is new again. Black becomes the ‘new black’. Everything in this life has a cycle. This article: “4 Trends Impacting Retail Marketing Strategies”  is an interesting read.

BrandSpark has recently embarked on a “Click & Collect Study for Magazine Purchase at Retail” with support from Magazines Canada.

Click and collect is growing in importance for retailers and the magazine industry is also excited about its potential. This study is poised to uncover shopper appetite.

This is an exciting opportunity for the Magazine Industry as a whole and for Retailers to realize increases in magazine sales but also for increased sales of other products advertised within magazines and sold within their retail locations.

The goal of the study and key elements are as follows and will entail interviews with both Magazine Retailers & Consumers to gain the best insights.

Key Study Objectives

Assess potential demand for magazines sold through online channels:

  • Identify the potential online magazine buyers out there.
    • The types of titles they would be interested in purchasing.
    • Their shopping process.
    • How does the subset of online shoppers of the retailer relate to magazines vs the in-store shopper?
  • Build a model that will enable Magazines Canada to showcase to current retailers that an e-commerce sales strategy has benefits beyond the category
  • Identify the most promising consumer segments to target with this new offering (highest probability of taking action)
  • Identify which retailers are most likely to experience growth from this strategy
  • What types of shopping trips include magazine purchases and how would these shopping occasions translate online?
  • Explore other retail channels that could sell magazines online per examples below:
    • Does Sephora sell beauty magazines? Do they control/curate their own content?
    • Do Health & Wellness retailers (ex. sell magazines?
    • Is there a potential in partnering with Meal Kit services (e. Uber Eats, Foodora)
  • How does the current online space look for magazines?
    • There is no dedicated online sales space for magazines on any of the online platforms.
    • There are no current models for online sales of magazines, no best practices, nor anything that will help replicate the same results as in mass/grocery stores.
    • Niche/special interest magazines have their own dedicated online spaces, but in a limited fashion (ex. ,
  • What are the potential benefits of selling magazines online?
    • Online shoppers are not as pressed for time. They can spend more time browsing and are willing to spend a bit more than they would in-store.
    • It is easier to target online shoppers with suggestions.
    • Magazines could be an attractive “add-on” item, contributing to a larger basket size.
    • Magazines sales efficiency online is likely to surpass that in-store, due to the ability to target shoppers based on specific interest, previous purchases, and other targeting tools available in e-commerce.
    • Offering magazines online will lead to increased basket size, and will potentially drive trips and increased retailer selection.
  • Does the online platform create any other unique opportunities for magazines that are not feasible in-store?
    • Product discovery through the magazines with a link back to the retailer’s website with special coupons/discounts (ex. Purchase a magazine and get X% off of a product).
    • Being able to promote a single issue to drive sales for that issue.
    • Themed issues as a strategy to co-promote sales for specific categories.
    • Unlocking special digital offers for other digital media available from that retailer.

This study could provide significant findings for the industry. We applaud the efforts that BrandSpark and Magazines Canada have put into getting it off the ground.


How Social Media has Changed Our Relationship with Magazines

I remember as a teen looking forward to going to the local corner store to buy Teen Bop, Teen Beat, Tiger Beat or one of the other teen magazines to get the latest issue with one of my favourite heartthrobs on the cover. Today, the pictures, the latest information or gossip on any of your favourite celebrities are at the tip of your fingertips on social media. In fact, the interaction feels a lot more direct as we can follow our favourite celebrities directly on social media. We can see inside their homes, go along on their vacations, read what they think about politics or learn how to make their favourite recipes. Whether we realize it or not, social media has changed our relationship with magazines, especially with the Millennials for whom digital is dominant, according to a recent IPA study. We now get to the information faster and directly from the source. However, there is a lot that social media doesn’t offer including solid trustworthy journalism and curated content. Can we really rely on social media to give us insightful information on politics, health or even introduce us to the up and coming actors? Not really. That is why magazines are still important and relevant. The 2019 IPA study also found that for both Gen X and Boomers digital consumption is split with non-digital. That is a large part of the population that is very much split in their media consumption. It is crucial for magazines to evolve and find their voice in order to survive in this very crowded world of media just as radio has done over and over throughout the years and television has been doing in the past few years. It is important to continue to speak to the audience that still appreciates it and at the same time capture the interest of Millennials.

In today’s world, the definition of a Publisher should include social media and online platforms. Publishers need to be nibble and change up their offering to coincide with what the consumers want. There is definitely an appetite for content as we are seeing more and more SIPs taking over the market at well over the $10 price point. According to Scott Mortimer, Meredith Corporation’s Vice President & Group Publisher recent interview with Mr. Magazine, of the 20 million copies of special interest publications they are set to sell at retail at the end of this fiscal, 17 million are priced at over $10. Utilizing relationships with other media publishers, partnering with other brands and constantly changing and evolving is key for magazines to keep their share of the media world.

There is no denying the magazine industry has changed and is continuing to evolve. Publishers that change and adapt and who continue to produce publications that the consumers want will survive and maybe even flourish. Quality journalism is key but hard to achieve in 280 characters. Social media can be used to find a new audience, to stay connected and relevant, to compliment and market a product, but magazines need to continue to do what they do best, produce excellent curated content and excellent journalism. That is what sets it apart from social media.

Annie Gabrielian ~ St. Joseph’s Media

Speaking to 1500 Loblaws Delegates about Magazines and Books

I recently returned from a Loblaws trade show.   This show piggybacks on Loblaws National Kick-Off meetings and is held every 2 years.  The show moves around to various locations in Canada and this year was held in Halifax on January 29th and 30th.    It is a very busy 2 days where we get to visit with 1500 Head Office Employees, Store Managers, Specialists, and District Managers.  We collect 3000 copies of our top-selling magazines, to give away, to the people who visit our booth!  This makes our booth a very popular stop!

We also promote new books that are being released. This year we were promoting the prequel to the Hunger Games that is releasing in May 2020.  It is called The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes and there will be lots of excitement surrounding it.

The trade show is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our product and speak to the profitability of the reading category.   It is so important to discuss the attributes of the category.  This show gives us an opportunity to showcase facts that the staff might not be aware of and put a positive spin on reading!  It also gives us an opportunity to recap any recent changes (new fixtures, locations, etc.) and how those changes have impacted our sales.   One of the items we spoke about was a U Scan fixture that we added in RCSS banner stores during 2019.  We showcased the success of this additional fixture with the hope of adding it to more banners.

In addition to the reading category, we were also discussing the various other categories TNG is involved in with Loblaws banner stores.   Did you know that TNG delivers the majority of craft beer to Loblaws stores?  In late 2018 we also launched a program, with Soda Stream, which has been a huge success! TNG handles all of the logistics for this product and is highly involved with the head office team in regards to planning and promotion.   We also managed the initial set up and continued merchandising of the new party sections at Loblaws stores.   TNG now merchandises these sections weekly when we visit to complete our magazine and book merchandising.

Overall the show is a very busy few days but I believe it gives us a good opportunity to showcase our products and services to the key people at Loblaws Co.

When Magazines Resonate, They Sell

We the North Indeed! It’s been proven again and again that when a topic resonates with consumers, they will pick up the magazine that covers it.

Raptors commemorative magazines

The rousing success of the basketball title win by the Raptors and the Black Friday 2019 event in Costco Canada shows what can be done when great planning and execution is married to great products.

Magazine titles prominently displayed on racking that held plenty of copies

Costco featured the commemorative win titles prominently in stores. 100% compliance was nailed nationally and the results are just phenomenal.  Single stores sold over 1000 copies. One store even sold 1400 units. And, to think this was in a single chain.

People wanted to hold that commemorative issue in their hands and relive the experience through the images and articles in their chosen magazine. We see this every time a title or a topic resonates.

Costco had sales of $500, 000 for these titles alone. Collectively,  across the ‘north’, the issue brought the industry millions of dollars.
Black Friday event at Costco

Black Friday was another well-executed event, where in this case, a deep discount drove magazine sales.  This 5-day, 40% off event also had 100% compliance at the store level. Rack signage and an e-blast offer to all members increased awareness at the stores.

Shoppers responded positively driving sales, and in the case of 15 stores, sales were doubled over the previous year! Total unit sales were up 34% and dollar sales were up 51% for this period.

This is an exceptional result and kudos goes out to Costco, CMMI and their agency partners for a wonderful retail success story.

The 2018 Box Score for Magazines is Here!

Every year, it is with bated breath that we await the latest box score report, letting us know who is up, and what magazines are really making it happen at retail. Click here for the 2018 report.

MBR Canada Event Brings Together Industry Experts

Magazines and Books at Retail (MBR) hosted another stellar day of learning, providing some interesting insights about what’s happening at retail, and online, at the Marriott in Markham, Ontario, on October 21st. As always, this event was packed with value.

The meeting began with round table meetings in the morning, where retailers, representatives from retail, consultants and magazine publishers were able to discuss what’s new and exciting, and to also take care of a little business. The presentations kicked off over lunch, with our own Craig Sweetman announcing the winners of the 2018 IAG Retailer Awards. Retailers who support the magazine category and whose sales surpassed those of the industry were presented their awards this summer. Click here to see this year’s winners.

I, then chatted about how the industry members could get involved in the promotion of the magazine category, by providing content for our blog, this blog. So many positive stories are going on out there from new title launches, to hot covers and titles that continue to grow month after month, and year after year. These are the stories the industry should be hearing more of, and we encourage, no, we would love guest contributors to our blog. Reach out and become a contributor.

Melanie Rutledge of Magazines Canada then joined the podium with the exciting launch of an upcoming research study to be conducted focusing on the area of Click and Collect for publications. Together with Phil Scrutton of Brandspark International and Craig Sweetman of CRS Media, they reviewed the still relevant findings of 2016 research and introduced this vital new research project that is funded through Heritage Canada. Click here to have a look at the presentation.

What’s hot, what’s not… Scott Gosse, Metro 360 gave the latest box score that surprised some of us with the magazine stats. Click here to view.

Amar Singh, Senior Analyst at Kantar Retail IQ put together a program specifically for the Canadian magazine and book retail audience ~ eCommerce in Canada. Always insightful and entertaining, he talked to key omnichannel retailer strategies: Loblaws, Sobeys, and Walmart. Not only did he provide what is happening in the marketplace and with consumers, he brought forth implications and opportunity for books and magazines. Click here to view. 

The jam-packed day concluded with impressions of the day from industry experts: Annie Gabriellian, St. Joseph Media, Carm Alfano, TNG Canada, Craig Sweetman, CRS Media, and Dean Waldron, Metro 360.

Special thanks goes out to Jerry Lynch, MBR President and to Jose Cancio for organizing such an important industry event.

Summer Reading – Had Me At Relax

The long days of summer have us in search of and enjoying a variety of experiences. Music festivals, action-packed movies, summer cuisine, fun fashion and various other outdoor activities and yes, road trips. Holidays provide more leisure time for these activities and magazines are a great resource for our passions, providing inspiration, information and ideas.

While there is no doubt that we’re consuming media differently today than we did even five years ago, there remains the tactile love of something you can roll up and throw into a beach-bag and not worry about whether it’s going to survive the sand and water. As we travel into the dog days of summer, here’s a look at some of the best reading for relaxation.

What does that mean for magazines at retail? Like most things, and magazines in particular, they need to be seen to be sold. With all of the varied interests and options for magazines, it is difficult at times to give all of them front and center exposure. Exposure necessary to sell copies. Often magazines that may not be as well known, or may not appeal to the person displaying them, may get relegated to the back. Lucky for some of these magazines, however, they have a loyal following and fans will seek out the new issue.

Merchandising magazines at your store? Shaking up your magazine merchandising at times and changing up the display to include a slightly different variety of titles at the front of any rack, while still keeping within category, could spark shopper interest. Typically, when changing the display, the old magazine will come out and its replacement is merchandised in the exact same spot. Visual change and interest suffers with this practice, however. By changing up what your shoppers see on the mainline may attract them and spark a new interest. It is just smart practice, therefore, to take out the older magazine within any category, move back remaining magazines that still have a few weeks on sale and place the new magazines in the front. You will gain more exposure for each title, create some new fans and likely gain more sales as a result.


Magazines Media Trends and What They Mean for Your Business

“Print is regaining its prestige. Every year FIPP finds innovations in the print space. Print offers strong journalism unavailable online. Private Eye, the UK satire magazine, is growing because it never embraced digital. Publications are creating new packaging for enhanced reader value. Brands are exploring higher quality premium products.” is a snippet from the recent Act 9 Experience conference discussing important trends in Magazine Media. Read the whole article by clicking here.