Retailers have begun to realize that cross promoting magazines can pay dividends beyond greater sell-through. Efforts to merchandise selected titles within targeted product categories not only can boost profits, but can add to the total shopping experience and help retailers build their image as a destination within the product category.
One targeted department is wellness. Shoppers' cognizance of general wellness coupled with the food industry's "Whole-Health" initiative has prompted supermarkets to position their stores as wellness centers. Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., and H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, are designing store-within-a-store wellness centers. In those centers, health-focused magazines such as Prevention, Health and Men's Health, to name a few, are cross promoted along with vitamins and herbs sold in those departments.
As a tie-in to its Nature's Marketplace store-within-a-store format, Wegmans has partnered with Rodale Press' Prevention to provide supplementary information for the chain's shoppers. The concept is simply an experiment at this point, said Dick Terlaak Poot, national marketing director of single-copy sales at Rodale.
The program introduces "factoids," little bits of health news, to the consumer once a month in Wegmans circular. The "factoid" will directly relate to the Prevention issue coming out that month. "It's a direct tie-in," and it's the first time Prevention has been involved in such a promotion, said Terlaak Poot. Other stores joining the campaign for better health include Ukrop's Super Markets, Giant Food, G&R Felpausch, Giant Eagle, and the Roanoke, Va., division of Kroger Co. Giant Food, Landover, Md., is also working with Prevention in an effort to leverage products sold in its stores and to convey to customers that Giant cares about their health, Terlaak Poot told SN.
"It makes an awful lot of sense to target your customer with all those solution-selling programs. If a person is going into the vitamin section and looking for herbs and ways to self-medicate, what's better than to have a trusted source of information right there at the same level in the same department?" Terlaak Poot asked.
Rodale has teamed with Roanoke-area Kroger stores as well. The partners are testing displays of Prevention in the produce department. The publisher does not pay any extra fees for the additional space, although it pays the cost of the display fixture. Similarly, other retailers are merchandising health-oriented publications in the produce section. At Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, there are four to six titles found there all the time, Bill Mansfield, vice president of general merchandise, told SN. "They're located on our bag fixturing where the customer gets the plastic bags [for produce]," he said.
G&R Felpausch Co., Hastings, Mich., too, puts several titles in its produce section, according to Bonnie Quick, director of general merchandise at the chain. "Home decorating, gourmet food, and health and wellness magazines are displayed in or around the produce area," she said.
Other publishers have joined the movement to help supermarkets capitalize on the trend toward better health. Conde Nast has developed a whole solution-selling program whereby the publisher offers various display options for cross promoting its magazines alongside products discussed in the respective editorials. "Our sales team can help increase the sales of supermarkets storewide with our effective cross-merchandising program. Examples include Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Mademoiselle in the beauty/cosmetics section; Self, Conde Nast Sports for Women in the HBC/pharmacy section; and Gourmet and Bon Appetit in the food aisles," said Steven Safran, national marketing manager at Conde Nast, New York.
Under the sales leadership of Roxanne Kring, national retail accounts manager at the publishing house, and Michael Flaherty, national sales manager, Wegmans, Genuardi's Family Markets and King's Food Stores are installing Conde Nast's cross-merchandising fixtures in selected stores.
The programs at Genuardi's and King's are modeled after the one in place at Wegmans, in which Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines are merchandised on a four-tier, freestanding wire fixture. The display is located in the stores' grocery aisles, according to Safran. A sign overhead reads: "Wegmans and Conde Nast Recommend." Below, magazines are given two facings each and are displayed on the top tiers of the display. Recipes from the magazines that have been endorsed by Wegmans' nutritionist are found on the rack as well. To complete the fixture and round out the solution-selling concept, ingredients named in the recipes may be placed on the fixture's lower tiers.
The program is slated to roll out to a select number of Genuardi's stores and will be going into all new and remodeled stores this year, Safran said.
Moreover, the cross-merchandising program will be installed in all King's stores by the second quarter of 1999, he added.
"The goal of our efforts is to maximize the profitability of the magazine category and the overall profitability of our retail partners. Profitability is an issue for retailers. On the surface, the magazine category may not look very important as it generates less than 1% of supermarket sales. But when true productivity is measured, it represents more than 4% of store profits. Magazines are a high-profit product that can also influence the purchase of other products throughout the store," Safran explained.
Retailers agree. Mansfield of Marsh said he has noticed the most sales growth in the smoke shop and the wine department, where publications like Cigar Afficionado and Wine Spectator are merchandised, respectively.
"You want to make sure you stock products that are mentioned in the publication," Mansfield said. "If you put Wine Spectator out there and you don't stock any of the wines they rate, you could be sending your customers to your competition," he added.
Mansfield said Marsh conducts a pre- and post-measurement of sales, based on the issues moved. He compares movement in the mainline to the movement in the cross-promotional area.
"Initially, we measure it on a weekly basis. After we have continued success for a couple of months, we probably don't review it again as frequently, maybe on a quarterly basis," Mansfield said.