Epicurious Leverages In-Store Beacon Network
Condé Nast’s recipe site Epicurious is tapping tech firm inMarket’s expanding network of mobile tracking beacons, which connect consumers to content and discounts as they stroll the grocery aisles. Through the partnership, Epicurious aims to deliver information and deals on partner products to people who have downloaded its self-titled app. Epicurious, which will implement the tracking system for its Apple iOS app before an Android rollout, is only just testing the mobile tracking and targeting technology and how it would operate in a live store environment. A likely scenario: Shoppers with the Epicurious app installed and Bluetooth enabled will receive a notification when they’re inside one of the thousands of inMarket network retail locations (including Safeway stores). The system might serve up a pasta recipe and related shopping list, along with a discount for one of the dish’s ingredients. “This is where we pull in our marketing partners,” said Carolyn Kremins, SVP, general manager of Epicurious. “Maybe at that point we will feed you a coupon for 50 cents off Buitoni pasta.” In-store tracking via mobile devices has yet to become pervasive, but inMarket and similar firms are hoping to drive critical mass. “Our goal is to have 30,000 to 40,000 beacons deployed in the next 12 months,” said inMarket CEO Todd Dipaola, adding the company just started installing its beacons in stores in January. Article offers more on how the technology works and Epicurious’s deal with inMarket. Notes that Condé already owns shopping-list app firm ZipList, although at this stage, it’s not connecting data from that broad universe of grocery lists and food interests to information gleaned through inMarket. Asked if Condé might consider trying to acquire inMarket or another in-store tracking firm, Kremins declined comment, except to say: “We’re always looking for smart acquisitions.”
Q1 Magazine Ad Pages Down 4%
Publishers Information Bureau member magazines’ combined ad pages were 28,567, vs. 29,745 in Q1 2013. MDN’s tally shows 108 of the 181 reporting titles experienced ad page declines, with 54 seeing declines of 10% or more, and 23 declines of 20% or more (article lists specific titles with double-digit declines). The women’s service and newsweekly magazine categories overall saw ad page declines. Total rate card-based ad revenue for PIB titles was -1.6%. According to MPA, the tech and retail ad categories accounted for 63% of the page declines. One tech company accounted for 74% of the tech decline, and two retailers for 17% of the retail decline. Six ad categories saw both page and revenue growth, including home furnishings (+16.4% in pages, +19.8% in revenue), and two categories (apparel & accessories, drugs & remedies) each saw more than 5% revenue growth despite small page declines. Among the 56 titles for which both ad pages and iPad units were measured, the “footprint” was -6%, said MPA.
Esquire Offers Dueling Topless Covers in May
Some newsstand copies (in stores April 22) will feature Lake Bell (cover line: “The most important actor/director/writer of her generation?”); others will feature actor Tom Hardy.
Real Simple to Launch Apparel Line
Real Simple has partnered with apparel and accessories company Cuyana to create a co-branded fashion collection (Cuyana for Real Simple). The collection, which will be sold on Cuyana’s website, marks the first time Real Simple has offered clothing (although it already has retail relationships with Bed Bath & Beyond and Finestationery.com). The clothing line will come out four times over the next year, with the first collection set to appear on May 15. Real Simple publisher Charlie Kammerer said Cuyana reached out to the magazine because they share a similar philosophy of helping to simplify women’s lives. Cuyana will make the new line; its clothes “tend to hover in the $50 to $200 price range, and have a minimalist aesthetic, consisting mainly of T-shirts, draped sweaters, capes, various bags and other accessories,” writes WWD. The line will be advertised in Real Simple and its website and social media sites, and in sibling Time Inc. titles.
Stringer Reportedly Accepts Time Inc. Board Offer
Sir Howard Stringer, the former Sony chairman, has agreed to accept Time Inc.’s offer of a place on its board, say Post sources.
Condé’s Deep Dive into Native Advertising
While individual Condé Nast brands have created native advertising, the first corporate-wide native ad, for Pantene, has just recently gone live on four of its women’s sites (Self, Glamour, Style and Lucky), and a template for its men’s titles is in the works. “The challenge for Condé is to ensure that its native ads are as good as the editorial content surrounding it…The templates also have to work on an array of sites…Equally important will be getting buy-in from all the company titles, which are used to operating autonomously,” writes Digiday.
MINI USA: Hearst Men’s Group’s Largest Digital-Only Ad Deal to Date
MINI USA looked for a media partner to launch a new hardtop model, working in tandem with its test drive promotion. The automaker chose Hearst Men’s Group to work with Ray Wert (who was part of the team behind Pepsi Max’s viral Jeff Gordon prank videos) to create an online series starring Adrian Simpson, former host of the BBC’s “Top Gear.” This marks the Hearst group’s largest digital-only deal to date.
As in U.S., British Printers Adapting to Digital Age
Piece details how digital technology has enabled far smaller numbers of workers to print far higher volumes of magazines, newspapers and books. Also notes that digital printing enables producing bespoke editions of any magazine. The broader context: “The global printing industry, with estimated revenue of $880 billion last year, will continue to grow by about 2% a year until 2018, driven mainly by emerging market countries, in the view of Smithers Pira, [a] research company. China will probably overtake the United States as the world’s biggest print market this year, Smithers Pira said, while India will slip ahead of Britain into the No. 5 spot by 2018.”
Apple Loses Another E-Book Decision
In the latest setback in its appeal of the e-book price-fixing decision against Apple, judge Denise Cote rejected Apple’s November 2013 motion to dismiss the states’ class action claims. Apple had argued that the states collectively lacked standing to sue for money damages.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Food Prices on the Rise
Two months of sharp increases in food prices show grocers are starting to pass along their higher wholesale costs to consumers. Retail food prices rose 0.4% in March–the same as in February and the largest increase since September 2011. By comparison, the prices of all consumer goods rose 0.2% in March and 0.1% the month before, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual inflation was 1.5% in March, up from 1.1% in February. That’s well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, as falling gas prices offset rising food costs. Beef, pork, poultry, eggs and milk have had the most dramatic price hikes. A drought that thinned cattle herds two years ago has driven up wholesale beef prices 23% in the past year, and a virus outbreak in the hog population has pushed up pork prices 56%, according to Sterling Marketing. Retailers have absorbed much of the increases. Retail beef and pork prices are up about 7% and 5.3% respectively in the past year. But Sterling owner John Nalivka expects sharper hikes of about 10% in 2014. Giant Food, which operates supermarkets in the Mid-Atlantic area, said in a statement the chain “continues to work with our suppliers to negotiate the lowest prices and strongest promotions possible for our customers.”
Inserra to Open First Independent PriceRite
The first PriceRite discount store to be owned and operated by an independent member of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative is set to open in Garfield, N.J., this summer. Store will also be the first PriceRite in N.J. owned by Inserra PriceRites, a division of Inserra Supermarkets, which owns 22 ShopRite stores in New York and New Jersey. PriceRite’s other 55 stores are owned by Wakefern. The new, 41K-sq.-ft. store is at the site of a former A&P. PriceRite is a self-service discount format that does not run a weekly ad or do traditional advertising but offers a full range of groceries and fresh items. Customers are encouraged to use their own bags or to buy them as needed for 10 cents each, which benefits the environment while containing costs.
99 Cents Only Reports on 10-Month Fiscal Year
The retailer changed its fiscal year from the Saturday closest to the end of March, to the Friday closest to the end of January, to be in line with retail industry peers. For the 10-month fiscal ended Jan. 31, it saw a loss of $12.5M, vs. an $8.9M loss in its prior, 12-month fiscal, and adjusted EBITDA dropped 26% to $120.5M. Sales -8.4% to $1.5B. But same-store sales (calculated on a comparable 43-week period of the prior year) rose 3.7%, with three-quarters of the increase resulting from increased transactions. Average sales per store open at least 12 months, on a trailing 52-week period, increased to $5.4M from $5.3M in fiscal 2013. Average net sales per square foot increased to $330, from $321 in fiscal 2013. President/CEO Stephane Gonthier said the company is encouraged by favorable consumer response to its “Go-Taller” program, in which it raised shelving to 78″ from 54″ at 64 stores over the past two months “to better display our product assortment and increase the average basket size.” Frank Schools, SVP, CFO and treasurer, said it was “a little bit premature” to discuss the sales impact of the higher profile, “but we are pleased with the results.” He also said 99 Cents Only is continuing to execute on its three-part strategic plan: investing in people and processes; accelerating store growth in existing markets; and improving sales and margin by enhancing the consumer experience, improving the product mix and leveraging global sourcing. Gonthier said increased global sourcing will help supplement the chain’s private-label consumable offerings, which will boost category margins; expand seasonal offerings to make the chain a go-to seasonal destination; and increase closeout opportunities and category margins by going direct to overseas factories. 99 Cents Only operates 343 stores (245 in California, 46 in Texas, 34 in Arizona and 18 in Nevada). It opened 27 net new stores last year, with plans to open 30-35 stores in fiscal 2015 within its existing markets.
Drug Store News
Trader Joe’s Quirky Success Formula
Trader Joe’s unique combination of affordable prices, innovative private-label items and gourmet, organic and natural foods has driven its sales per square foot to $1,723, vs. an industry average of $621 (and Whole Foods’s average of $973), points out a new Packaged Facts report.
Coca-Cola and Mondelez Score with Merchandiser
Mondelez International and Coca-Cola Co. are driving sales growth for their products and categories by providing quick, convenient access to complementary snacks and beverages in a modular merchandising unit placed in the high-traffic perimeter of stores. A year in, they report that retailers that have featured the displays saw two to four times the growth of those that did not. Article offers more specifics on the program and its results.
Tesco Reports 2nd Year of Falling Earnings
Tesco PLC on Wednesday wrote down the value of its European business by £734M ($1.23B) and reported its second consecutive fall in full-year profit, as it struggles to compete with fierce competition at home and abroad. Tesco said falling profits and a slow economic recovery in its European markets led to a huge fall in the value of its assets, especially in Turkey and Central Europe. Its turnaround initiatives in the U.K. also failed to gain traction. For the year to Feb. 22, Tesco’s trading profit—which excludes property gains or losses—fell to £3.31B ($5.54B) from £3.45B a year earlier. The profit figure slightly topped analyst expectations. Sales were largely flat at £70.89B. Tesco reported a net profit for 2013 of £970M, up from £28M in the prior year, which was hit by a number of write downs.
Amazon’s Dash Scanning Device Wins Early Kudos
The Dash device lets users order goods by scanning barcodes of everyday groceries. When there is no barcode, a microphone and voice recognition technology allow users to speak their additions to a shopping list. Amazon is testing the Dash with an undisclosed number of members of the $300-per-year Prime Fresh loyalty program in San Francisco and L.A. An Amazon spokeswoman said the device is specific to the Fresh business for now; she declined to say if it might expand for uses with Amazon.com or in other markets. Piece quotes a couple of users in the test praising the device, with one saying he’ll probably order more from Fresh as a result.
Facebook Moves Deeper Into Mobile Paymentstle
Financial Times reported that Facebook has taken steps to get regulatory approval for a mobile payments system in the U.K. A mobile payment system would also allow Facebook to gather even more personal information about people that it could use for targeted advertising, which is at the core of the company’s business. Knowing the spending habits of its customers also could allow Facebook to match purchases with ad campaigns, helping the social network prove the efficacy of its advertising. Right now, Facebook partners with third party data brokers to accomplish that goal.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: