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June 14, 2021

Publishing News

The Atlantic Among Pulitzer Winners
Reuters: "Reuters and the Minneapolis Star Tribune each won a Pulitzer Prize on Friday for journalism about racial inequities in U.S. policing, while the New York Times and the Atlantic were honored for chronicling the COVID-19 pandemic, the two topics that dominated last year's headlines"... BuzzFeed: BuzzFeed won its first Pulitzer for a series of innovative articles that used satellite images, 3D architectural models, and daring in-person interviews to expose China’s vast infrastructure for detaining hundreds of thousands of Muslims in its Xinjiang region"...

Forbes Launches Subscription Service For Marketing Partners
MediaPost: "Forbes has launched its first lead-generation subscription service: Forbes Demand Engine. The paid leads-as-a-service offering will allow marketers to interact with their core audience through Forbes’ content. Brands can use Demand Engine to seek “guaranteed marketing-qualified leads, and to tap into our content, content studio and data resources to help them drive business,” says Jessica Sibley, CRO for Forbes, speaking at a session at MediaPost’s Publishers Insider Summit. Forbes will work with partners on each campaign over the course of the subscription. It will capture data from audiences who engage with the content and deliver it to the partner. ”Every engagement will be custom-based on the target audience and time frame,” Sibley adds. The product stems from Forbes’ experience of working with partners to convert audience interest into tangible leads, Sibley notes. Like many publishers, Forbes is always looking for new revenue opportunities. And its clients are looking for new opportunities for engagement. The new DTC service connects Forbes’ premium audiences with premium clients, it says. Forbes is also building a profile business through which people on its executive rankings can create profiles, similar to a LinkedIn profile, with the credibility of a Forbes listing, Sibley reports. It started with the financial advisor community. Forbes says it reaches 140M people worldwide per month."

Conde Nast Preps Retail Store for Allure
WWD: "Allure is preparing to unveil its first physical retail store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood this summer through a licensing partnership with Stôur Group. Opening its doors earlier than originally planned, on July 1, the 2,900-sq.-ft. Lafayette Street store will be set over two floors and will feature around 300 makeup, hair care and skin care products at any given time, curated by staffers at Allure. It will also offer augmented reality capabilities for customers to try on products, as well as smart mirrors, in-store events, tutorials and masterclasses. The hope is that the store can build off the success of its beauty recommendations and The Allure Beauty Box, a handpicked selection of editor-approved beauty products that launched in 2012, of which revenue has risen 10% YOY... Markus Grindel, managing director of global brand licensing at Condé Nast, previously told WWD that he believes its “360-degree immersive retail experience” will be key to its success — and brands appear to agree... Brenda Brock, founder of Farmaesthetics, the attraction for her to feature her nourishing lavender milk in the store was the ability to be able to tell her own story through technology such as QR codes and for it not to get lost through translation via sales associates in department stores... It’s understood that each brand featured in the store received an invitation to do so after having their products in Allure and that the store shelves will mirror Allure’s content themes, including the Best of Beauty Awards"...

American Airlines Folds In-Flight Magazine
MediaPost: "American Way, the in-flight magazine launched as an annual by American Airlines in 1966, is disappearing from the skies this month. The last issue, featuring the headline, “Standing Out — America’s hippest LGBTQ neighborhoods,” is dated June 2021. American, which follows Delta and Southwest in retiring its print product, is offering digital entertainment to engage travelers in-flight. For instance, the company offers a library of 600 movies and TV shows, and over 150 classes in creative, productivity and language via American’s new Lifestyle inflight entertainment channel. This features Rosetta Stone and Skillshare content. American will also offer travel content created in partnership with Ink... Although it hasn’t said so, the switch to digital can also presumably help advertisers target audiences and personalize ads"...

Why New Yorker's Writers Have't Joined Union
NY Times: "Writers for The New Yorker have been known to refer to the editor, David Remnick, as “Dad,” so there was something a little illicit about their decision to gather without him back in 2018... Some 20 of the writers, many of them marquee names, were getting together to decide how to react to the surprise announcement that their less heralded colleagues — fact checkers, copy editors, web producers, social media editors — were forming a union and demanding raises... Many of the writers, it seemed, valued their independent contractor status. Some... used the threat of a union — and the suggestion that Condé Nast had illegally classified many of them as contractors, which the company disputes — to set up a process by which some writers could become employees with health benefits. A deal was finalized late last month. And that has left the most prominent writers mainly watching from the sidelines in recent weeks as a bitter labor dispute has consumed their beloved magazine. The New Yorker is now working out the final details of a contract, and people on both sides appeared optimistic they would reach an agreement this week. They’ve agreed on a $55,000 starting salary and are hashing out issues like caps on potential health care cost increases, people familiar with the talks said — even as the Guild threatens a strike. Many writers have tweeted in support... [but none appear to have participated in recent protests]...
NY Times (paywall)

June Starts With 4% Gain in Print Book Sales
PW: "With only the adult and YA fiction categories posting increases, unit sales of print books still rose 4.1% in the week ended June 5, 2021, over the comparable week in 2020, at outlets that report to NPD BookScan." Hardcovers rose 4.7% (up 28% year-to-date), trade paperbacks rose 6.1% (+19.8% YTD), mass market paperbacks declined 13% (8.4% YTD), and board books declined 2.9% (+22.7% YTD).

Twitter Previews Subscribe Button Prior To Rollout
MediaPost: "Twitter is previewing a subscribe button that will allow writers and publishers to offer newsletter subscriptions to their Twitter audiences. The service will be available for Revue newsletters in the near future. The button will appear on the person’s Twitter profile. “We’re currently building new ways to grow your newsletter audience, and we want to preview one that will live right on your Twitter profile,” Revue said in a tweet last week. It adds, “We want to give writers tools to turn their growing engaged Twitter audience into newsletter subscribers. This will be available for Revue newsletters soon, so stay tuned.” The subscribe button apparently will reside below a call to action: “Subscribe to Newsletter.” Earlier this year, Twitter promised it would pursue “an audience-funded model, where subscribers can directly fund the content they value most,” said Dantley Davis, head of design and research during a Twitter event. This is supported by the company's acquisition of the newsletter service Revue in January. Twitter acquired Revue to “enable writers to publish paid or free newsletters to their audience,” Davis said. The company announced a program called Super Follows that will allow publishers and writers to charge for various content forms, including newsletters. It added Revenue would lower its paid newsletter fee to 5%... The subscribe button will debut on the web and Android, to be followed by iOS, according to Mashable."


Retail News

USDA to Invest $4B to Strengthen Food Supply Chain
Grocery Dive: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is planning to invest over $4B through the Build Back Better initiative to make critical supply chains stronger, aid food production and processing, improve food distribution and storage, and ensure equitable market access for food producers. USDA's efforts are an attempt to remedy supply chain challenges exposed during the pandemic while also addressing climate change, food access and wages for farmers and workers in the sector. This initiative comes as the Biden administration works to make U.S. supply chains more resilient. As part of the administration's broader push, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was appointed co-chair of the newly created Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that is to provide solutions to immediate supply chain challenges as the economy reopens from the pandemic, with a focus on areas with imbalances in supply and demand. The secretaries of the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation also serve as co-chairs of the task force"...

UPS Entry Could Even the Same-Day Delivery Playing Field
RetailWire: "UPS recently indicated that it is exploring a same-day delivery option at its Investor & Analyst Day event. “We don’t have a same-day product today, as you know, and so we’re looking at it,” said CEO Carol Tomé in response to a question on emerging competitors at last week’s event. She told analysts that same-day delivery for UPS “could be a network outside of our network, a different product, a different offering.” The logistics publication, FreightWaves, assumed that meant the use of contractors. “We don’t have this all-the-way figured out, but we’ve got a team of people looking at it. … I think there’s an opportunity there that will be very different than what we’ve done in the past,” said Ms. Tomé. Same-day delivery received a boost during the pandemic, particularly as e-grocery sales took off. Instacart expanded to provide same-day options for Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sephora, 7-Eleven and other non-grocery channels. Beyond Instacart, UPS would face same-day competition from DoorDash, Uber, and Target-owned Shipt. FedEx offers same-day services in limited markets. also continues to aggressively push its same-day options. UPS has been raising prices and enforcing volume limits amid a heightened focus on profitable growth since Ms. Tomé took over as CEO last June. At its investor event, management laid out a three-year growth plan that focuses on SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), healthcare and international. Expanding Saturday and Sunday deliveries as well as last-mile delivery options are part of UPS’s goal to significantly increase market share with SMBs, and adding same-day delivery could further enhance offerings to the sector. The company has forecast slower growth for enterprise clients, which include Amazon and other large e-commerce players that have traditionally offered lower margins. The refocus comes as Amazon has been increasingly managing its own deliveries as it builds out its logistics network. Tomé stressed that UPS would be selective with customers in pursuing growth. “Not all packages are equal,” she said."

Boxed to Go Public in Deal Valued at $900M
Grocery Dive: "Boxed, the online seller of bulk-sized toilet paper, cereal and other goods, has entered into an agreement with Seven Oaks Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), according to an announcement on Monday. Through the deal, which values Boxed at roughly $900M. Boxed will go public in the U.S. under its current name and receive $334M in net cash. The new company will be led by Boxed’s existing CEO Chieh Huang while Gary Matthews, Seven Oak’s chairman and CEO, serve as board chairman. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the press release"...

FMI: Grocery to Lead Restaurants in Post-COVID Market Share
SN: "Grocery retailers will hold an edge in food spending market share over the foodservice sector as the nation heads into the post-pandemic period, according to FMI-The Food Industry Association’s annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends study. At the same time, within grocery retail, mass merchants have been absorbing share from traditional supermarkets, revealed FMI’s report, prepared in tandem with The Hartman Group. The outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020 reversed a decades-long trend of market share gravitating from retail to foodservice, which ended up benefitting grocery stores at the expense of restaurants. Food-at-home market share fell from over 60% in 1992 to under 50% around 2014-15, while food-away-from-home share climbed from less than 40% to over 50% in that time frame, U.S. Census Bureau data cited by FMI show. That trend continued until February/March 2020, when the onset of the pandemic began to flip-flop market share in favor of food retail. Monthly revenue for food retail hit its peak in April 2020, surging 27% to represent 70% of all monthly food spending, whereas share for foodservice plunged to 30%. The relaxing of COVID cases and pandemic restrictions in the following months helped the restaurant sector restart businesses and win back share, but through March 2021 its monthly revenue remained 17% below earlier levels, FMI reported in the U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2021 study, released in late May. Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI, noted the “suddenness” of the food market share shift toward grocery retailers from foodservice. “Within three weeks, 30 years of gains and losses were erased,” Sarasin said in a webinar this month on the Grocery Shopper Trends findings. “Restaurants have bounced back some by adjusting their business practices, finding innovative ways to serve their customers and having limited reopenings. But there remains a 12% gap in food retail's favor.” That 12% gap as of March 2021 would translate into $100 billion of growth for grocery retailers if stretched over the full year, FMI’s study projected. “The extent to which this elevated food retail spending continues depends much on the actions of those in the business of producing and selling food to retain customer loyalty beyond the pandemic,” Sarasin pointed out. According to FMI’s tracker, average weekly grocery spending per household jumped from $121 through February 2020 to $161 in late March/early April 2020, moderating to around $135 over the ensuing weeks before rising to $146 in the first week of October. FMI estimates weekly household spending for groceries at $142 through February 2021, compared with $121 in 2020 and $113 in 2019.“That’s a dramatic rise, $142 per week on average, which would be between 15% and 20% higher than pre-pandemic,” said webinar participant David Feit, VP strategic insight at The Hartman Group. “So that’s where all the sector-level sales receipts are coming from. Whether that [dollar figure] goes up, stays flat or goes back down depends on what will go on with shoppers, what stayed the same for them and what has more fundamentally changed. ”Post-pandemic, many Americans will look to grocery stores as COVID-shaped eating and food spending behaviors continue. FMI’s study found that 58% of more than 2,000 consumers polled eat at home more since the pandemic, and 49% cook or prepare their own meals more often. Similarly, 46% keep more food on hand stored at home, 38% spend more money on groceries, with 34% shopping for food online more often. “Retailers must compete with foodservice on the playing fields of convenience, ease of ethnic options, affordability and culinary experience,” Sarasin said. “Many consumers have learned during the pandemic that home-prepared meals are not only healthier and more economical, but they can actually be quicker, too. Retailers have a chance to deepen that experience but should be seeking ways to amplify convenience, nutrition and ease.” Those efforts will come amid a grocery shopper shift away from supermarkets and toward the mass channel, the FMI/Hartman findings show. “Channel usage has definitely evolved over the past year as channels other than supermarkets have gained regular shoppers,” Steve Markenson, director of research and insights at FMI, said. Through early 2021, 39% of U.S. food shoppers surveyed cited supermarkets as their primary store, down from 44% in 2020. Meanwhile, 33% named mass merchants as their primary grocery store, up from 26% in 2020. Also gaining favor as a primary grocery destination were warehouse clubs (from 7% in 2020 to 8% in 2021) and online-focused retailers (from 4% in 2020 to 6% in 2021). “Just three years ago, a supermarket was the primary store for close to half of shoppers (49%), but as of early 2021, 61% indicate a store in another channel,” FMI’s study said. “Mass has been the greatest beneficiary of this migration, growing its share to nearly that of supermarkets, but club and online-primarily (e.g. Amazon Fresh, etc.) have also gained.” As of February 2021, 79% of consumers polled said they shop supermarkets “almost every time” or “fairly often” in-store or online for groceries, down 2% versus a year ago. That compared with 64% for mass merchants (change not available), 42% for club stores (+5%), 36% for limited-assortment grocers (+3), 33% for dollar stores (+1%), 31% for online-only/online-primarily retailers (+11), 31% for natural/organic grocers (+4%), 31% for drugstores (+5%), 25% for ethnic grocers (+4%) and 23% for convenience stores (+3%)... A big reason for the grocery shoppers’ migration to mass merchants is e-commerce. FMI’s study found that 38% of food shoppers placed an online order with a mass merchant within the past three months as of February 2021, up 26 points from a year earlier. In comparison, the share of consumers placing online orders in that time span was 27% at supermarkets (+11 points), 25% at online-focused retailers (+10 points), 21% at drugstores (+16 points), 16% at clubs (+7 points), 7% at limited-assortment grocers (+3 points) and 5% at dollar stores (flat versus a year ago)"...


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