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On Topic: Future of Magazines

On Topic: Future of Magazines

What are future directions at retail for magazines in light of changing consumer behavior?

The newsstand is a vital, profitable channel for our brands, and we continue to introduce new products, most recently Dr. Oz The Good Life, which had an 80% sell-through, proving that consumers respond to unique, curated content that’s entertaining and informative. As habits evolve, we are working closely with retailers to create innovative merchandising and shopper marketing programs that work, raise awareness and driving profitability. Our readers spend twice the national average on shopping trips, and many of the products advertised in our brands are sold in supermarkets and big-box stores. The importance of a strong partnership between publishers and retailers is perhaps our most valuable asset as we continue to navigate through changing times.

—DAVID CAREY, President, Hearst Magazines

We’ve done research with our readers that shows that the customer is still enthusiastic about buying magazines at retail. As publishers we need to deliver a quality product that is worth what we are asking the customer to pay. And we need to do more to promote our single-copy sales to our customers, and partner with retail outlets to implement programs such as co-locating magazines with appropriate products and using more sophisticated data analysis to geo-target distribution. The system can work but we need to restructure how we are doing business today so dollars go to the channels where they’re really needed.

—EFREM "SKIP" ZIMBALIST III, Chairman and CEO, Active Interest Media

It goes without saying that the big game changer in the media landscape today is convergence. All media are delivering content through multiple platforms and channels and in multiple formats. However, for the consumer, it can be like drinking from a fire hose. Because of this, research shows that throughout the new media ecosystem, brand equity is increasingly driving discoverability and resonance — and that magazine media’s powerful brands are particularly well-positioned to thrive across platforms and channels. That’s great news for magazine media, as is the fact that magazine media alone have the print advantage. The print magazine experience is particularly relevant now, as it offers consumers an antidote to what 2014 Trend Analysts are calling “connectivity overload.” Consumers — 69% of them — plan to carve out “me time” in 2014 to disconnect from their devices, and one of the most consistently popular “me time” activities for consumers across the country is reading a favorite print magazine. Clearly, all retail is going through a transition and the evolving magazine newsstand business is no exception. But we’re seeing publishers employing some really innovative strategies to connect readers who crave their brands to the newsstand, and that is encouraging for the retail channel.

—MARY G. BERNER, President and CEO, MPA — The Association of Magazine Media

Now more than ever, consumers are seeking information about the foods they eat. They are looking to the supermarket for food and nutritional facts, healthy recipes and tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, and magazines can be a resource. Our Eat Smart. Be Well. publication is a great way for us to provide this kind of information. Our publication is available in both print and electronic versions. In addition, QR codes are featured throughout the magazine directing shoppers to short online recipe videos. We believe the link between the print format in-store and related additional online content, combined with our effort to remain focused on compelling editorial content, will keep our publication relevant amidst changing consumer behavior.

—AMY SIMERI McCLENNAN, director of marketing, Martin’s Super Markets

The growth of digital, mobile and social as media and communication platforms has not only influenced magazine buying behavior but also changed the competitive landscape at retail, creating challenges for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. However, magazines continue to play an important role at retail. For editors, purchasing behavior delivers real-time performance results and allows them to optimize future content. For retailers, consumers reading these magazines benefit from the content, much of which is solution-oriented and drives purchase of other categories in their stores. The benefit of magazine brands is that they create consumer connections across all touch points. The key to these brands’ future is to harness the power and scale of distributing premium, trusted content agnostic of channel — retail, subscription, mobile, tablet, social, etc. In fact, 87% of consumers interested in reading magazines on a digital device also consume that same brand in print purchased either at retail or via subscription. The publishers who will win in the future will be the ones that understand the need to connect with these shoppers along the path to purchase to engage them prior to reaching the shelf in order to better activate purchase.

—JOE RIPP, Chairman and CEO, Time Inc.

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