A real page-turner

Even As digital media expands, there is still a place for magazines.

By Craig Levitt

It sure seems like technology has it out for the magazine industry. Today many Americans get their news from the Internet. Personal tablets are threatening to erode magazine sales. At retail, self-scan aisles are eliminating the space for the front-end magazine rack.

However, consumers still want to flip pages. According to industry reports, 87% of people interested in reading magazines on a digital device still want a printed copy.

Observers say magazines remain an important retail category based on its portability, consolidated content and distinct ability to delight, educate and entertain consumers. Newsworthy events, such as the Royal wedding and assassination of Osama bin Laden, and issues that commemorate special events such as the Super Bowl also drive incremental sales and profit.

Despite the impulse nature of the category, magazines can also be used as an enticement to grow basket sales, says Richard Alleger, senior vice president, retail for Emmaus, Pa.-based Rodale.

“Frequent shopper information can and has been used to help target promotions,” he says. “[For example] we have tied purchase of Men’s Health with a retailer’s private label water.”

While checkout is clearly the most important location for magazines, followed by a mainline magazine section, supermarkets shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to create secondary displays throughout the store. Some areas retailers should be paying close attention to include: beauty, baby and wine. Also effective are temporary display bins for special issues.

Overall, the outlook for magazine demand remains optimistic, says William Romollino, vice president, shopper insights for New York-based Time/Warner Retail Sales & Marketing.

“Strong readership patterns and demand for specialty and seasonal magazines continues to deliver impressive incremental sales and profits to retailers and publishers. Collaboration in the areas of research, display and promotions will enable retailers to continue to reach profit and customer satisfaction goals,” he says.

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