Feb. 15, 2012

Publishing News

Opinion: Turning Newsstand Trends Around 
In a Q&A, The New Single Copy’s John Harrington outlines the factors that in his assessment have contributed to newsstand declines (economy-driven consumer cutbacks on impulse purchases, sub and to a lesser extent digital format marketing, Web-based celebrity and other info sources, cost-cutting by “financially distressed” wholesalers, poor magazine display placements by retailers). He stresses his belief that momentum can be regained not only through discretionary spending uptrends as the economy improves, but through an industrywide “major marketing and promotion program to remind consumers of the excitement and value of magazines, particularly at retail.” Also sees potential for successful specials/bookazines, which may develop into regular-frequency titles; cites Food Network Magazine’s rapid newsstand growth, potential for more strong entries in that category.  

Newsweek Showcases Rejected Covers Online

New feature on Newsweek’s Tumblr page shows cover design drafts that weren’t used. Other (unspecified) magazines have launched similar online features.  

People Launches iPad-Optimized version of People.com
iPad version features same content on site’s desktop version, but reformatted so iPad users can tap headlines to access content, swipe through videos/photo galleries, use iPad-only features like trending topics section, upgraded search box. Interactive ad unit also created for iPad site. Move spurred by growth of iPad-driven visitors to People.com (generated 2.1M+ uniques in January).   

Glamour Tests Digital Shoppable ‘Wall’ in NYC
Emulating a Tesco “virtual supermarket” effort in South Korea, Conde Nast’s Glamour has set up a temporary wall in Manhattan that features products from key advertisers, lets users scan 2-D barcodes to purchase products for home delivery. 

Sunset Names New Editor; Forbes PR Chief Stepping Down
Time Inc.’s West Coast magazine Sunset, largest regional magazine in U.S. (1.26M), has hired Kitty Morgan as its new editor-in-chief. Morgan was most recently executive editor of Better Homes & Gardens. Separate item in same column/link: Monie Begley, Forbes Media’s director of communications for 12+ years, has announced her decision to leave the company. 

Obama Admin Proposes Postage Hike, End to Saturday Delivery
Administration’s FY 2013 budget plan calls for allowing USPS to seek the balance of one-time rate hike it proposed (rejected by PRC) in 2010, which would have instituted 5.8% price hikes for most mail classes, more for periodicals (on top of usual inflation-based increases). Plan calls for end to Saturday delivery, pre-payments for retiree health insurance, returning overpayments to retirement fund. Does not address early retirements, layoffs, post office and D.C. closings, relaxing service standards. 

Southern Living, CMT in Content Exchange
Time Inc.’s SouthernLiving.com will generate coverage around country music broadcaster CMT’s music awards and other events, while CMT will cross-promote magazine’s content through its site, Facebook/Twitter channels (combined following of 1.5 million) and television shows.  

Outside Magazine Details Issues Surrounding Civil Suit Alleging Book Fraud
Penguin Publishing, as well as “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” author Greg Mortensen, and the Central Asia Institute, named in suit by book buyers and donators to CAI, seeking class-action status. Suit alleges fraud based on false statements in books. Penguin seeking to get suit dropped, arguing that it is “black-letter” law in the U.S. that publishers are protected from liability for non-defamatory false statements in books that they publish…by the First Amendment,” and that “a publisher owes no duty to verify the accuracy of non-defamatory statements in a nonfiction book it publishes.” If case goes to trial, could be important ramifications for publishers, suggests Outside.    

Ford ‘Sneaks’ Fake Model Into SI Swimsuit Issue Ad
Mustang ad spread includes partial shots of “Dalena Henriques,” apparently a “model” who exists only as created by Ford.  

Bluff Media Sold to Churchill Downs Inc.
Bluff’s brands, including Bluff and Fight! magazines, sites, online tournament database The PokerDB, sold to horse racing/entertainment company Churchill Downs Inc. for undisclosed amount. Bluff co-presidents Eric Morris, Eddy Kleid to continue to lead brands. CDI plans to expand/build on brands; in particular, hopes for opportunities if federal/state online poker laws are liberalized. 

Cat Fancy Gets Twitter-Jacked
A satiric Twitter account masquerading as “official” feed of Cat Fancy magazine has been taken down after CF was made aware of it. Reportedly featured “sinister-sounding” tweets about cats. CF has now created a real, official Twitter account. 


Retail News

Kroger Says It’s More Competitive with Walmart, Other Food Retailers
Execs say pricing, shortened checkout times paying off. Kroger gets 50% of its best shoppers’ total food spending (excluding restaurants); that rate has recently increased about 1 percentage point per year, says CFO. Separately, Kroger associates at four D.C.’s, two dairy manufacturing facilities have ratified new labor agreements with Teamsters.
Reuters  (more competitive)
Progressive Grocer (labor agreements)

Grocers Score High in Customer Experience Ratings

Only eight companies across 18 industries ranked by consumers as delivering an excellent customer experience, and Sam’s Club, Publix, Aldi, Winn-Dixie and H.E. Butt are among them, finds Temkin Group. Separately, NRF Foundation/KPMG study confirms large majorities of retailers rank customer satisfaction, customer service strategies as top priorities for 2012.
Supermarket News (consumer survey)
Progressive Grocer (retailer survey)

Another Investor for B&N
Fidelity Management & Research Company (FMR LLC subsidiary) has acquired a nearly 10% interest in Barnes & Noble by buying 6M+ shares. News follows Dimensiona Fund Advisors’ acquisition of 5.45% stake. 

Bookstore Sales Drop in December; Down Slightly (-0.8%) for Year
Preliminary Census stats show month’s sales -15.6%, to $1.67 billion. But full-year sales down just slightly (-0.8%). 
Report: Amazon’s Prime Members Said to Be Fewer than Estimated
Three sources “familiar with the matter” tell Bloomberg that Prime subscribers totaled 3M to 5M as of October; analysts have pegged the number at 10M more. Amazon said to be working to reach 7M to 10M in next 12-18 months. Separately, survey of active Amazon users by Cowen and Company shows satisfaction, likelihood of renewal high; Cowen estimates Amazon has 11M paid Prime members and 19M total Prime users in the U.S. 
Bloomberg  (reported overestimates)
eCommerceBytes.com (Cowen)

Kellogg Buying Pringles, After Diamond Deal With P&G Crumbles
Kellogg Co. will acquire the Pringles business from Procter & Gamble in an offer worth $2.7 billion. Kellogg stepped in after Diamond Foods Inc. and P&G agreed to terminate agreement for Diamond to buy Pringles for $2.35 billion. Deal terminated in wake of Diamond’s internal probe that found company wrongly accounted for payments to walnut growers, which resulted in firings of CEO, CFO. Findings reportedly being turned over to SEC, San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office.

Whole Foods Aims to Alter Price Perception
As it expands into suburban markets, retailer seeking to counter pricey reputation by keeping many prices flat, offering more price promotions, discounts. 
WSJ  (price perception)

Why Consumers Are Switching Brands
Accenture study: Despite higher-than-ever satisfaction with customer service, 51% of U.S. consumers (66% globally) report switching brands in past year due to a bad customer experience. Conclusion: Higher expectations set the bar higher for brands. 

Panel: How Mobile Is Influencing Women’s Shopping Habits
Mobile is turning all marketing into direct-response model, as it increasingly drives immediate buying decisions by women, confirmed brand, media, agency execs on “Women’s Buying Behavior” panel. 

Danone: No 2012 Improvement in Consumer Spending Expected
Q4 like-for-like sales +7.8%, driven primarily by water, but 2012 sales guidance reduced from 6%-8% to 5%-7%.

Friendly’s’ Retail Push Paying Off
Friendly’s’ restaurants are struggling, but it’s upped its retail products’ distribution 40% (+3,200 stores, including Walmart, Food Lion) in past eight months, and will have doubled stores by year-end. Retail now accounts for 25% of its sales; likely key in turning company around after it emerges from bankruptcy. 

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