Meredith EIC Talks Innovation in Print Via 'Digital Mindset'
FIPP: Meredith’s Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Parents Magazine at Meredith Corp., explains how her team uses innovation to better engage with audiences through print products – and how a ‘digital mindset’ is improving the print magazine. Excerpts: "Our approach to innovation, from a technological point of view, is handled by a dedicated team which sits across print and digital – but all team members are encouraged to embrace innovation.From a technological standpoint, innovation comes out of the Innovation Group here at Meredith. If we have an idea or an advertiser has an idea, we go to them and they help us execute it. That innovation team is working across platforms. It’s working with the digital platforms to make sure the experience in digital is backing up what we’re doing, and the print team works on it as well... We also consider innovation in terms of point of view and voice. That is something that I’m very intricately involved in and I feel is part of the success of the Parents brand. I demand that when we’re working on new content ideas, themes for the year ahead, images for the content, or images for the covers, that all of our staff are bringing inspiration--either things they are seeing in the zeitgeist on Instagram, or even quantifiable trends and insight based on research or social listening... Supporting data and preparation are of course important to innovation, and I agree there has been a shift away from companies simply pursuing innovation on a whim, I don’t believe there is a need to get bogged down in six-to-eight months of research and preparation every time we want to do something. We want to be using trends and basing our ideas on fact, but we still need to be nimble and to try stuff and test stuff. And then of course we measure the impact.One innovation we have definitely brought to the print product is a more digital approach. Take our ‘Back to school’ issue, which we do every September and which is a big deal for us, as an example. Over the years we’ve packaged it in different ways. One year we did one long story called ‘100 things teachers want to know’. The next year, however, we tested that against a format where we broke that down by age and by grade – so the audience could engage with their specific bit more easily. And what we saw was a much more sustained level of engagement. It was almost like a digital approach to print--it was like clickbait--and the audience loved it. So I think that more digital approach to the print product is innovative in itself and it’s working for us... I’m most pleased that the brand is seeing a rise in time spent with the magazine. At a time when the more educated amongst us realize we need to and want to put our phones down, we are seeing people take social detoxes and social holidays – and what’s happening alongside that is it’s causing an increase in book sales and time spent with the print product. That’s obviously good news for print, and we just need to keep innovating and changing to make sure we take advantage."
Town & Country to Publish 'Downton Abbey' Special Issue
WWD: Town & Country is jumping on the movie version of the "Downton Abbey" PBS series, "hoping to attract the superfans of the show with a new “collectors” edition of the magazine. “I’m not sure if there is a more Town & Country show than ‘Downton Abbey,’ although ‘Succession’ is proving to be a contender,” Stellene Volandes, the magazine’s editor, said. “We’ve been covering the show since it premiered [in 2010].…chronicling it in every way we possibly can.” When the movie adaptation was set over a year ago, Volandes made sure T&C put in its bid for a cover story. “We had to have it,” she said. Elizabeth Angell, T&C’s digital director, said she first sat down with the movie studio last spring (so before the movie was publicly announced) and that a cover package was already under way. But the package remains purely editorial, not a sponsored package by the studio, Volandes said. Ultimately, all of the planning resulted in a large print and digital package of “Downton Abbey” content, from an online takeover with “Downton”-themed content to a group cover with Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Allen Leech, along with an exclusive preview clip and a sit-down with the costume designer on the reproduction process for a royal tiara that makes an appearance in the film. Only the newsstand edition of the October issue will include the extra “Downton” content, however, along with special cover paper and a special price of $9.99. Volandes said this strategy makes the magazine “a luxury product and a special thing that readers can go and buy and keep... “As an editorial staff, we’ve been covering this show and the world it shows so extensively that we’ve been able to pull out pieces of it that no other brand could.” And not since the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, has T&C put together a package quite this extensive. The magazine’s coverage of the wedding and everything surrounding it last year broke a number of traffic records. “Downton Abbey” is right on the mark for the magazine’s audience, which Angell said “loves everything British. They want to travel British, they want to know about British brands, the whole world that ‘Downton’ embodies they want,” Angell said. “I’d say slightly less than half of our total output right now is loosely categorized as Anglo.”
Real Simple's Idea Home Comes With Video, Design Tips
MediaPost: "Real Simple’s“Idea Home” experiential franchise is expanding this year to include a virtual video tour and the ability to shop products from the entire home.The Idea Home was first launched last year. Real Simple brought together home organizers, interior designers and its editors to decorate an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to showcase products and designs from sponsors and licensed Real Simple products. The event served to market the magazine, an app and its new book on organizing, as well as bring attention to designers and their products.This year, the publication is taking over a multi-level townhouse in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, filled with products that are shoppable via a hub on Real Simple. Consumers can buy over 300 items on display in the Idea Home — from hand soap to mattresses — via smart codes. Some of the items listed are affiliate links, meaning Real Simple will get a cut of the sales.Real Simple also created video content around the house. Readers can take a 360° virtual video tour of the home.Consumers can purchase $25 tickets to a real-life tour of the house in October. A portion of the proceeds will go to Win, a provider of shelter and permanent supportive housing for New York City homeless families.The Real Simple home will feature more than 250 design tips, such as how to make the most of small spaces and how to add personality to different rooms in a home.The rooms in the Idea Home were created by different designers... Nine sponsors are featured in the home, including Arm & Hammer, Elkay, Glad, Glade, The Home Depot, Mrs. Meyer's (a returning sponsor from 2018), Sleep Number, Whitehaven Wines and Whole Blends. The Real Simple home will be featured in the October issue of the magazine, on newsstands September 20, and online."
Glamour Launches 'Money' Podcast; NYT Daily Podcast Reaches 1B Downloads
MediaPost: "Glamour today launched its second podcast with iHeartMedia to tell stories of women and their relationship with money.Called “She Makes Money Moves,” the podcast comes nine months after Conde Nast's first true-crime podcast was created with iHeartMedia. "Broken Harts" investigated Jen and Sara Hart, who drove their six adopted children off a cliff in 2018. “She Makes Money Moves” will be hosted by Glamour editor-in-chief Samantha Barry. “There's power, especially for young women, in talking about money: How much we make, how much we spend — and how money impacts our identities and our relationships,” Barry stated. “There's incredible discomfort around these topics, and here at Glamour, we're committed to shedding the taboo and inviting women to join in." The 16-episode podcast features a different topic each week, from student-loan debt to pyramid schemes. It will feature discussions from a variety of finance experts, including author, financial reporter and popular TV personality Farnoosh Torabi, as well as Tiffany Aliche, Nicole Lapin, Shannon McLay and Stefanie O’Connell. Episode 1 explores the life of a compulsive shopper. New episodes will drop every Tuesday.Separately, The New York Times’ daily podcast has reached 1 billion downloads since its debut in early 2017, the publisher announced today.Lisa Tobin, executive producer for audio, Theo Balcomb, executive producer of “The Daily” and Michael Barbaro, host of “The Daily,” noted the podcast has featured 224 Times colleagues in at least 30 countries in 691 episodes"...
Google Claims It's a Tech Platform, Not a Broadcaster
FierceVideo: "Given everything that YouTube has done in the past few years to build it content lineup for both ad-supported and subscription streaming, it’s fair to ask if the service is looking to replace traditional media.To kick off the annual IBC show on Friday, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, head of YouTube EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), was asked that question, and answered that fundamentally, YouTube is a tech platform. But, she said that YouTube has created a generation of viewers who want to and expect to participate in content, whether by creating it or interacting with it as part of a community. She said that level of engagement has become the expectation, and that broadcasters and content producers cannot afford to ignore that.On the creator side of that participation equation, YouTube increasingly has become a more viable monetization platform for creators working outside of traditional media. Frot-Coutaz said there’s been a 30% increase year over year in YouTube creator channels making six figures or more. “These creators are building the future of the content business,” she said.That has continued to drive YouTube’s audience growth in the U.S. and internationally. In the UK, among 16- to 24-year-old consumers, YouTube is the most watched video platform, according to Frot-Coutaz. That’s a following that’s been building for years and one that broadcasters have recognized as crucial to reaching expanded audiences"...
Opinion: Why Vinyl, Books and Magazines Will Never Go Away
In Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky writes in part: "Vinyl records, paper books, glossy magazines – all should be long dead, but they’re refusing to go away and even showing some surprising growth. It’s probably safe to assume that people will always consume content in some kind of physical shell – not just because we instinctively attach more value to physical goods than to digital ones, but because there’ll always be demand for independence from the huge corporations that push digital content on us. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl album sales grew 12.9% in dollar terms to $224M and 6% in unit terms to 8.6M in the first half of 2019, vs. 1H 2018... In 2018, hardcover book sales in the U.S. increased by 6.9%, paperback sales went up 1.1% and ebook sales dropped 3.6%. The number of print magazine titles published in the U.S. rose to 7,218 from 7,176, according to the Association of Magazine Media. That’s more magazines than the U.S. had in 2009. For all the havoc the digital revolution is wreaking on newsrooms, people are still starting new titles – and 96% of the magazine industry’s subscription revenue still came from the print editions, with digital providing the rest... Offered an easy choice, people would rather have a vinyl LP than its digital image in the cloud somewhere; it’s just that the choice isn’t there most of the time. Michael Palm from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill... suggested that physical vs. digital, or new vs. old, could be a less relevant differentiation point than corporate culture vs. independent culture... A similar logic applies to books. According to the American Booksellers’ Association, independent bookstores’ sales went up about 5% in 2018. These stores are where people hang out, discuss their discoveries, receive recommendations and advice. They are also where the products of small publishing houses can get more attention than they do in major bookstores or on Amazon. The increase in the number of print magazines also isn’t occurring thanks to major launches by big industrial publishers. There’s space in this industry for niche publications that want intimate contact with readers, not a tiny share of the attention squandered on the internet. The Association of Magazine Media claims the average time to read an issue of a magazine published in the U.S. is almost 50 minutes. A magazine is the same kind of alternative to Instagram or Twitter as a vinyl record is to Spotify or Apple Music. This may be the last line of defense for old content formats – a line they could be able to hold forever: The preserve for independent creation, manufacturing and distribution in a world that belongs to giant corporations that mass-produce content and mass-distribute it through the cloud. The old-new dichotomy may well turn out to be misleading; there's nothing “old” about trying to go beyond the mass market."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
B&N College Learns How to Serve Gen Z
RetailWire: "Barnes & Noble College (BNC) sees itself as more than a just a bookstore for the millions of students, educators and others it serves through its 777 campus locations, their respective e-commerce sites, as well as 714 virtual stores. The company has found that serving its core customers — students between the ages of 18 and 24 — requires different approaches than those that worked with the generation(s) that preceded them.“We have found that what makes Gen Z uniquely different from previous generations is that they have a very strong sense of who they are as individuals, as well as their values and aspirations,” Lisa Malat, COO of BNC, told RetailWire. “As part of that, they feel a sense of responsibility to change the world and correct things they see that they don’t think are right. And this certainly translates to their behavior as a consumer. They want to associate with brands that reflect their own values and beliefs, and that allow them to express their individuality.” BNC, which was spun off from Barnes & Noble in 2015, has used its own proprietary research platform to better understand the shopping expectations of younger consumers.“The physical retail space is important to Gen Z, despite the fact that they’re a generation of digital natives,” said Ms. Malat. “While they do live online, social connection and the experience of going into a store and immersing themselves and engaging with a retailer in their own personal way is also critically important.”BNC has made investments in curated merchandise, new brands and local events as it looks to create deeper connections with its customers. It has also developed concept shops within many of its stores that address different aspects of students’ lives, such as graduation, career success, mental health and wellness.The shops, Ms. Malat said, address the needs of Gen Zers while providing the type of “experiential moments” they have come to expect from merchants. “In our graduation concept shops, they can create Instagrammable moments of trying on their cap and gown and holding a diploma frame, saying, ‘Hey, Mom, look at me. This is four years from now,’” said Ms. Malat. BNC is also informed about what works with Gen Z consumers through its own workforce. The company employs thousands of students as employees in its stores who make recommendations about relevant products based on local interest."
BJ's Promotes Delaney to President
SN: "Lee Delaney, chief commercial officer at BJ’s Wholesale Club, has been promoted to president. BJ’s said late Monday that Delaney, previously EVP, begins in the new role effective immediately. With the move, he adds the president’s title from Christopher Baldwin, chairman and CEO. Delaney will continue to report to Baldwin. “Lee’s strategic vision and leadership have been instrumental in transforming BJ’s Wholesale Club,” Baldwin said in a statement on the promotion of Delaney (left). “We are creating a focused commercial organization that will provide outstanding member service by delivering great products at unbeatable value. Under Lee’s leadership, the new organization will build on our progress as we continue our transformation, driving long-term, profitable growth. I look forward to continuing to partner with Lee to transform BJ’s Wholesale Club.” Delaney joined Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s in May 2016 as EVP and chief growth officer. He became executive VP and chief commercial officer in February 2018. Before coming to the warehouse club retailer, Delaney was a partner at the Boston office of Bain & Co., where he was a leader in the firm’s consumer products practice, and prior to that worked for Electronic Data Systems and Deloitte Consulting"...
Holiday Sales Forecasts Reflect Uncertainty
RetailWire: "Separate forecasts by AlixPartners and Deloitte point to a strong holiday season with sales up as much as 5.3% and 5%, respectively over last year. AlixPartners’ forecast, however, comes with caveats. Joel Bines, managing director at AlixPartners, described the “unprecedented uncertainty” surrounding the holiday season. “From on-again, off-again tariffs, to a growing chorus concerned about a recession, a looming election and geopolitical uncertainty, this season is unlike any in recent memory,” said Bines. “While our forecast is bullish, we are nevertheless advising clients to be nimble. These are uncharted waters, and the best course to set is one that includes strong cost control and flawless execution.” One element that bodes well in YoY comparisons is that sales fell off last December in part because of President Trump’s decision to shut down the federal government. A similar event is not expected this year. Adam Pressman, a managing director at AlixPartners, addressed retailer moves into new businesses with the holiday season approaching. “Models such as subscription services and resale programs and services might be ways that both traditional and digital-native retailers can drive success this holiday season and beyond,” said Mr. Pressman"...
Stew Leonard’s Opens First NJ Store, In Paramus
PG: "Stew Leonard’s is celebrating its new Paramus, N.J., store – its first in New Jersey – this week by inviting lifestyle guru Martha Stewart to return to her home state to preside over the grand opening. First, though, the grocer held a Sept. 16 homecoming reception for Stewart, who was born and raised in Nutley, during which a live Jersey cow will be named in her honor... Pointing out that the Paramus store is only the grocer’s seventh – the last one opened in East Meadow on New York’s Long Island in August 2017, and the one before that in Farmingdale, also on Long Island, in January 2016 – Mike Troy, editor-in-chief and brand director of Progressive Grocer sister publication Retail Leader, nonetheless noted that was “a tremendous rate of growth for a company founded in 1969 that operated four locations (three in Connecticut and one in Yonkers, N.Y.) for most of its existence.” Speaking of what makes the small chain successful, Troy observed: “An innovator of experiential retail and theatrical presentation, Stew Leonard’s unique value proposition stems from its limited assortment (2,200 items) and a focus on fresh categories, which account for 80% of sales. Then there is the Ikea-like approach to merchandising, where customers are channeled through the store. The concept works. Annual sales last year were more than $400M, and with the addition of a massive new store at one of the nation’s highest-volume malls, sales are likely to surpass $500M next year""...
Summer of Grocery Labor Unrest Continues
PG: "After a contentious summer, the grocery industry may be in for more strikes as workers increasingly demand improved working conditions.In a series of strike votes over the summer, members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) in Oregon, Washington and California have voted overwhelmingly to authorize strikes if contract bargaining fails to produce acceptable union contracts.According to Salon.com, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 voted on Aug. 24 to authorize a strike for 20,000 grocery employees at Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer locations in the Pacific Northwest.Last week, the Oregon AFL-CIO debuted a proposed ballot initiative that would limit any grocery store to two self-checkout machines.The labor unrest in Oregon comes two months after union members voted to authorize a strike for about 46,000 grocery employees in Southern California. The workers reached a tentative deal, averting a strike, and grocery associates in the region subsequently voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract. Northern California has also experienced labor disputes, although agreements have also been reached between workers and Safeway and its Vons chain, and the Save Mart, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value banners"...
Grocery Chains to Test In-Store Digital Media Network
SN: "Albertsons, Safeway, Southeastern Grocers and Weis Markets supermarkets are slated to pilot an in-store digital media network from News Corp. subsidiary News America Marketing (NAM).In the test, due to launch this winter, large-format screens deployed in high-traffic areas of the store, including at the entryways, and in-store windows will run various applications of digital media. Content will include local and national advertising as well as brand and retailer marketing. NAM said ads can be turned on and off based on real-time triggers — such as time of day, weather and first scans for newly launched products — and be directed at any phase of the shopper journey leading to the purchase.“Piloting this exciting new technology with News America Marketing provides additional opportunities to further monetize our in-store media inventory while providing real value for brands and memorable experiences to our shoppers,” according to Adam Kirk, SVP of trade planning and local marketing at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers, whose grocery retail banners include Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más. “The creative format also provides us with an ‘always on’ opportunity to support our own brands, events, seasonal promotions, loyalty programs, offers and more, with personalized, interactive and connected in-store customer experiences,” Kirk added. New York-based NAM noted that digital in-store media enables retail and brand marketers to target audiences with static and video content in a medium and location where most purchasing decisions are made. For retailers, the network provides opportunities to improve communication with customers as they enter the store and better compete for media spend. Meanwhile, the stores offer brand marketers a highly viewable environment where shoppers are receptive to advertising messages, the company said.“Digital in-store media combines the sophistication, automation and personalization of online digital media with the stopping power and impact of in-store with the contextual relevance of the physical store,” Tracey Koller, chief retail and merchandising officer at NAM, said in a statement.NAM, whose offerings also include SmartSource Magazine FSI coupons and Checkout51 mobile coupon app, provides brand-funded print signage in more than 60,000 stores across North America. With the new in-store digital media network, the company handles all aspects of the activation, including fabrication, installation, maintenance and operation of all hardware and software, plus measurement, selling and account management.“With this launch, we can help bridge the gap between brand, equity and performance marketing while delivering a relevant shopper experience,” Koller said."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: