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May 21, 2019

Publishing News

Bloomberg to Launch TicToc on Streaming Services
Digiday: "Bloomberg’s goal to turn TicToc, its 24/7 news brand, into a fully fledged media network is taking shape.Launched on Twitter December 2017, TicToc now has a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Amazon Echo, as well as a podcast and newsletter. By the end of this year, it will have a presence on over-the-top streaming services too. “The mission is to live across all platforms that make up someone’s daily news diet,” said Jean Ellen Cowgill, MD at TicToc. “If you look at the projection for the OTT ad market, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. There’s a lot of competition because it’s the next big explosion, we want to be part of that.” TicToc is in a promising position, benefiting from the deep reporting and data resources of Bloomberg which helped it to reach profitability in its first year. Currently, TicToc has 70 people in New York, London and Hong Kong. Around 10 of its employees are in sales and business development. Hiring is underway to staff up for its OTT programming.Exactly how TicToc’s streaming show will look is still being decided. What the company knows for sure is that people aren’t happy with the current general news offering on streaming services, which tend to replicate linear news shows from cable TV. Global audience research from Bloomberg found that 34% of those who spend more than 10 hours a week streaming content are dissatisfied with how news is presented. Another finding: only 27% watch news as part of their streaming content mix. “People want experts, but they don’t want talking heads,” said Cowgill. “They want a more narrative-storytelling style and more analysis but with the immediacy of the news world.” According to Cowgill, 90% of the TicToc audience is between 21 and 44 years old. It’s a younger and broader audience than Bloomberg’s typical cohort, which has helped attract new advertisers. There are a lot of differences to consider when programming for streaming services rather than social media. Aside from length, the OTT show will be less frequent, viewed on bigger screens and needs to suit being viewed live or on-demand. It also needs to be efficient. A strong component of the revenue will be advertising, although TicToc is talking with potential partners with subscription video-on-demand services"...

Vogue Hires Exec Dedicated to Video Expansion
WWD: "Vogue is getting its own executive to head up an ever-expanding output of video content.Robert Semmer is joining Condé Nast as the new VP of video for Vogue, a first for the fashion magazine. He comes to the brand after a stint as head of content for Premier Music Group, a small music agency founded by industry executive Josh Deutsch. Before that he worked in various content roles at The Fader, Viacom and Vice. Although Vogue has its own small dedicated video team, Semmer will be tasked with further growing the magazine’s video audience, which just hit 5M subscribers on YouTube and has been trending upward for about two years. “The team in place has been fantastic and working really closely with Sally [Singer, Vogue’s creative director], but what we’re really excited about is enhancing video to a greater degree,” said Croi McNamara, SVP of programming for Condé Nast Entertainment, to whom Semmer will report. “We want to bring creative growth and business growth'"...

Nylon Launches Spain Edition, Part Of Larger Expansion
MediaPost: "Nylon Media has launched an edition in Spain, it’s ninth international edition.This comes after Nylon redesigned its U.S. site back in February, powered by RebelMouse, the publisher's CMS platform.After the "successful" relaunch, Nylon president Evan Luzzatto, a former Snapchat executive, told Publishers Daily: “We can now leverage RebelMouse’s platform to share Nylon's digital content, draw market-specific insights and standardize design principles across Nylon's international partners.“It enables us to unify the brand internationally while publishing content catered to each market,” he added. In the last three years, Nylon launched market-specific versions in China and Germany. It also has partners in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Mexico. Nylon's partnership with RebelMouse enables the publisher to launch international markets faster, and "ensures Nylon's core identity stays intact in new markets," said Anne-Elise Duss, Nylon's director of business development"...

NME, 'Uncut Magazines Sold To Singapore Tech Company
MediaPost: "British music magazines NME and Uncut have been sold to Singaporean social-music platform BandLab Technologies, the same company that once owned a 49% stake in Rolling Stone.TI Media, formerly Time Inc. U.K., sold the publications for an undisclosed amount. The company shuttered gossip magazine Nowlast month, citing falling circulation and advertising revenue. In March last year, TI Media stopped publishing the print version of NME, which was founded in 1952, due to circulation declines.Uncut, launched in 1997, continues to print monthly.According to Financial Times, BandLab came to TI interested in the two titles, after it sold its minority stake in Rolling Stone to Penske Media Group in January. “These brands occupy a treasured place in the U.K. music landscape and increasing relevance to the global music scene, which we are looking to enhance and extend,” stated BandLab CEO Meng Ru Kuok.Kuok is the 30-year-old son of Khoon Hong Kuok, the palm oil billionaire based in Singapore.BandLab owns a few other U.K. magazines, such as The Guitar and MusicTech, as well as London-based video streaming service BandLab Technologies operates the BandLab app, which allows musicians to edit, collaborate and post their own music."

Out Mag EIC Threatens to Quit Over Unpaid Writers
Daily Beast: "Out magazine editor in chief Phillip Picardi has threatened to resign in a long-simmering struggle over the magazine’s unpaid freelance writers.Multiple sources told The Daily Beast on Monday that Picardi has recently told the company’s owner, Pride Media, he will leave the 27-year-old magazine if the dozens of freelance contributors were not compensated"...


Retail News

Amazon Helps Lift Whole Foods Traffic
SN: "Amazon Prime is bringing more shoppers into Whole Foods Market stores, but traffic metrics from digital marketing firm inMarket show the retailers are still working out the omnichannel equation. For Q1, foot traffic at Whole Foods climbed 16.5% from a year earlier, according to the Spring 2019 inMarket Insights Report Card on the specialty grocer. The increase indicates that Amazon may be “doubling down” on its omnichannel strategy by serving up special deals to its millions of Prime members to drive visits to Whole Foods stores, inMarket said in its report. Customers also may have stepped up their shopping frequency at Whole Foods versus a year ago. “Given the increase in total visits, it appears that Amazon Prime members are being attracted to shop at Whole Foods at a substantial volume,” said Cameron Peebles, chief marketing officer at inMarket, which uses location data to gauge customer traffic. “It’s not possible to say exactly which of the many strategies they have implemented is having the most effect, but Amazon Prime membership is likely one of the leaders.” The foot traffic gain, however, didn’t translate into more new shoppers. InMarket’s report said the number of new visitors to Whole Foods fell 2.5% in the first quarter compared with a year ago. “New shopper acquisition was a clear strategy for Whole Foods immediately following Amazon control, with price drops and Prime membership promotions being the focus. As these tactics matured, it likely became more difficult for them to retain the same levels of effect as they converted new shoppers into established ones,” Peebles explained. “As a general rule, it’s harder to attract a new customer than it is to retain and develop an existing one. So Whole Foods could simply be focusing on their mature shopper base.” One omnichannel benefit being reaped by WF may be micro visits, or shopping trips shorter than five minutes. In the first quarter, micro visits at Whole Foods stores jumped 10%, inMarket said, pointing to the effect of more Amazon Lockers at Whole Foods locations and streamlined pickup for online orders, resulting in more “in-and-out” trips. “The increase in micro visits at Whole Foods is likely a combination of factors, but the addition of Amazon Lockers at Whole Foods is a major influence,” Peebles said. “If people are stopping by Whole Foods simply to pick up their e-commerce purchases, that’s a new behavior — almost a convenience-store like behavior — and Whole Foods will need to figure out how to capitalize on these micro visit customers via different strategies than their traditional grocery shoppers.”Rising micro visits, though, appear to be lowering the amount of time that shoppers spend in Whole Foods stores, inMarket noted. Average dwell time — the length of time spent at a location per visit — dipped 0.2% in the first quarter at Whole Foods. “The slight decrease in shopper dwell time is most likely a byproduct of growing Amazon Locker micro visits,” said Peebles. Brands generating the highest volume growth at Whole Foods in the first quarter were all perishables: Organic Valley (dairy), Organic Girl (salads and dressings), KeVita (beverages), Chobani (Greek yogurt) and Driscoll’s (berries), according to inMarket. “Interestingly, brands for pantry or dry packaged foods — like granola bars or cereal — were not among the top five,” the report said. “We believe that the top five brands by growth at Whole Foods are likely a result of the type of customer who generally shops there. They’re interested in fresh products above all else, and these perishable items are likely a result,” Peebles said. “Also, shoppers are much more likely to buy their nonperishable staples, like paper towels or toothpaste, from online sources these days, which definitely impacts brick-and-mortar stores.”

Giant Foods Adds to Pennsylvania Expansion
SN: "Continuing a growth spurt in its retail network, Giant Food Stores plans to acquire Ferguson & Hassler (F&H), an independent grocer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Financial terms of the deal, announced Monday, weren’t disclosed. Under the transaction, Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant will purchase F&H’s store at 100 TownsEdge Dr. in Quarryville, Pa. The F&H store is slated to close on June 19, published reports said. Plans call for Giant to convert the store and its fuel station to its banner and then reopen the location about a week later. F&H associates will have the opportunity to interview for employment with Giant... The F&H purchase marks Giant’s second Lancaster County grocery acquisition in less than a year. Last September, Giant announced a deal to buy the Lancaster, Pa., store of local grocer Darrenkamp’s, which shut its other three locations after 86 years in business. Currently, Giant operates nine stores in Lancaster County, employing more than 1,400 associates"...

SpartanNash Expands Family Fare Rebranding
SN: "SpartanNash Co. has relaunched 18 Family Fare supermarkets in West Michigan as part of a brand repositioning for the banner. The $18.3M investment includes a new Family Fare logo, an updated look and feel for the stores and a range of in-store enhancements to add “value beyond price” and create a more engaging shopping experience, SpartanNash said. With the remodeled stores, which held grand-reopening events over the weekend, the company also created more than 120 new jobs. SpartanNash piloted the rebranding at four Family Fare locations last year and completed upgrades at 14 more stores on Sunday, according to President and CEO David Staples. “This positioning will be key to the differentiation of our operation by sharpening our focus on affordable wellness; value beyond price; a fun and indulging shopping experience, with a focus on local products; and providing a socially smart and community-focused store operation,” Staples said yesterday in a conference call with analysts on Q1 results"...

Whole Foods to Ban Plastic Straws
MNB: "Amazon-owned Whole Foods announced yesterday that it will “stop offering plastic straws across all of its 500 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada,” claiming that it is “the first national grocery chain to make the environmentally friendly move,” according to CNN.CNN writes that “plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050 and massive amounts of it have piled up in landfills, some emitting greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming over the near-eternity they take to degrade.”The story says that “Whole Foods will also reduce its plastic usage in other parts of the store,” offering “smaller plastic bags in the produce department and will start using new bags for its rotisserie chickens that use 70% less plastic than the hard plastic cases they will replace.”In a prepared statement, Whole Foods chief merchandising officer AC Gallo said, “We recognize that single-use plastics are a concern for many of our customers, Team Members and suppliers, and we're proud of these packaging changes, which will eliminate an estimated 800,000 pounds of plastics annually.”CNN points out that Whole Foods isn’t alone: “Starbucks announced in February that it redesigned its cold cup lids so they won't require a straw at all. By 2020, it will eliminate single-use plastic straws at its more than 29,800 locations around the world. Disney is in the midst of eliminating single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers at its parks and McDonald's announced last year plans to move from plastic to paper straws at its locations in the U.K.”

The Heyday for Mid-Sized Natural Foods Retailers Is Unbounded, So Far
SN: "By all measures, the midsize natural chains appear to be thriving. For the two public companies in the mix. Natural Grocers and Sprouts, success is shown clearly in recent earnings reports. For the 152 stores operated by Natural Grocers, net sales increased 9.4% to $221.4M, during the first quarter of fiscal 2019,vs. Q1 2018. the company attributes these gains to an $11.1M boost in comp store sale and an $8.3M increase in new store sales.Meanwhile, Sprouts’ just-released full-year 2018 results show $5.2 billion in net sales, a 12% jump from 2017. Comparable store sales growth for the 313-location chain was 2.1%, while two-year comparable store sales grew 5%. As further evidence of prosperity, both Natural Grocers and Sprouts have continued opening new stores: eight for Natural Grocers and 30 for Sprouts in each respective company’s FY 2018.Since the rest of the midsize retailers are private, “the best data we have to go by is their growth,” says Neil Stern, senior partner at retail strategy firm McMillan Doolittle. “If they are still growing and adding new stores, they are probably doing well. By that measure, in general, most seem to be very successful"... Make no mistake, though... "Kroger will use Lucky’s as a pawn in the chess game to block competition,” says Jay Jacobowitz, president of Retail Insights. “With the equity stake by Kroger, a controlling interest, all of a sudden Lucky’s is infiltrating Florida, which is probably the biggest opportunity for Kroger where it didn’t have a presence. This puts Kroger in a proxy war against Publix, yet Kroger doesn’t have to find 80,000-square-foot boxes—they can put up 30,000-sq.-ft. boxes with the Lucky’s banner”...


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