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MagNet 2017: State of the Newsstand Nation

Presented by Carm Alfano, Anita Baldwinson, Jerry Lynch, Craig Sweetman and Dean Waldron.

Presenters affirmed that “magazines still matter”—91% of people are reading magazines, there’s still a strong preference for print over digital, and magazine readers still respond to ads and content. And Canadian magazines are still important to Canadian consumers.

They addressed the shifting landscape of retail and some of its challenges for retailers. Retail today is “under fire,” with very limited sales growth and a strong push to “connect with the consumer.” Online retailers are now the biggest threat. Canadian retailers’ magazine sales have seen widespread loss across all classes. Mass stores and supermarkets make up the biggest share of the market; this can be frustrating for publishers, as this means retailers are disengaged with the product, and that their publications don’t get prime placement on the shelves.

Magazines that are seeing sales growth are mostly mature publications more so than new ones. Titles that resonate the most are ones that are:

  • Tactile and addictive
  • Collectible
  • “Me-time” magazines
  • “Bookazines”
  • Tribute issues.

Comparisons were made to the retail market for books, which is very stable but has more advantages around display space and other aspects.

Scan-Based Trading (SBT) is one industry initiative to “secure the future.” With SBT, retailers no longer own the inventory. Rather, suppliers maintain ownership of their product within retailers’ warehouses or stores until the items are scanned at the point of sale.

The Industry Action Group (IAG) is another initiative seeking to create growth in today’s newsstand industry. They’ve been working with distributors, retailers, and selected publishers to improve relationships, dedicate space for magazines, and increase sales. So far they’ve only been working on this with the top-selling magazines, but they’re looking to start a regional pilot program in order to include smaller titles.

The speakers encouraged us to raise our expectations by expecting to grow, not fall; to seize opportunities to do more; incorporate digital to help sell more print; and, most importantly, to engage and communicate with retail at all levels. Communication and engagement with everyone is important, including distributors, funders, consumers, and retailers.

Natasha Sanders-Kay
Inclusiveness in Publishing Initiative & Sponsorship Coordinator, Magazine Association of BC
Managing Editor, subTerrain magazine
MagsBC Board Member

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