HearstMade, REI Partner on New Magazine
Ad Age: "Outdoor retailer REI today launched Uncommon Path, a quarterly print magazine, in partnership with HearstMade, the division of Hearst Magazines that produces Airbnb Magazine with Airbnb. As Adrianne Pasquarelli reported in June when the REI-HearstMade partnership was first announced, Uncommon Path replaces the retailer’s catalog; it's meant to emphasize an REI-as-lifestyle mindset while soft-selling its gear.Kent, Washington-based REI is structured as a consumers' co-operative. And while the cover, with its ethereal view of woodland splendor, does tease a bit of a product focus in small-print coverlines (e.g., “Best Puffy Jackets,” “Favorite E-Bikes”), the stories inside generally fit into the brand’s civic-minded co-op ethos (“Cool New City Parks,” “Schools Without Walls,” “Civil Rights Bike Trip”). Uncommon Path also includes full-page ads from the likes of Merrell, Fjallraven, Subaru and Altra. The first issue runs 84 pages and is meant to “inspire readers to live a life outdoors through compelling storytelling, striking photography and thought-provoking contributors,” per the magazine's mission statement. A HearstMade spokesperson says the quarterly will be distributed to REI co-op members and to targeted subscribers to certain Hearst titles. You’ll also be able to find it on bigger newsstands and at all 155 REI stores."
After 20 Years, The Fader Finds Print 'More Valuable Than Ever,' Enjoys Newsstand Gains
Folio: Now in its 20th year, music industry magazine The Fader "has evolved into a multi-platform brand attracting 3M unique visitors every month, an annual music festival, an apparel vendor, a music label and at the center, a print magazine that’s on the rebound. Revenue-wise, 2019 has been The Fader‘s most successful year in print out of the last four, says president and publisher Andy Cohn, with single-copy sales up double digits over 2018." Excerpts from a Q&A with its president/publisher, Andy Cohn: "The thing that I’m most proud of about Fader is that we’ve never changed our mission statement. We’ve always been about discovering artists ahead of the curve, all the way up through them hitting the mainstream. By sticking to that and keeping it the same, it’s informed our ability to change the way that The Fader is put out into the world. When I first got here it was just a print magazine, then we started a website and started making posts, but the way that we expressed Fader never changed. There were times, like in 2008 when print was decimated and display advertising was not catching up with the losses in print advertising, we saw a lot of our competitors cutting back on print and going to the internet to write about anything and everything. They were becoming more mainstream, covering the biggest artists in the world because they had to for survival. We never went down those roads, we never started doing like the 10 hottest girls or guys in hip hop and R&B, or the coolest cars driven by famous people... We stuck with strong storytelling, we believed in print as a way to really take our time while we used the internet for speed. We weren’t going to be one of those magazine publishers who was going to go down with the print ship; we were very nimble. Being an independent publisher with no board of directors, we were able to stick to our guns and find other ways to make money. We were doing things like tying events to print or digital before it was in vogue. We could have joined an ad network, but we didn’t want to be just another site in a network of 100,000 sites and blogs, where it was just to say they had 100M people coming every month and could sell display advertising for more money. While those things are attractive when your revenue is shrinking and you’re losing all of your print advertising, we chose to be scrappier and keep the brand strong, but diversify. Then when it came to video and social media, we were always just platform agnostic. Wherever our readers are, however they want Fader, we’re going to give it to them and not be beholden to one medium. We built the business realistically. We wanted to stay profitable at whatever size we were. There were times when we had serious discussions about expanding the aperture of our coverage or starting to do reviews or lists—things that are kind of lower-common-denominator. It just never felt right for the brand. We built it brick by brick, even if it’s not going to grow a certain amount every year. When you’re publicly traded or have venture capitalists or shareholders, that’s what they want... [On digital-only "covers"]: It’s one thing that drives me nuts. Like, what is it covering? They’re just feature stories. The difference is that with print, there is permanence. Nothing can be deleted; it’s handled with care and created in a very non-2019 type of way. I have a 12 year-old and a 15 year-old, and they covet tangible things. They walk around with their phones like every other kid, and it’s all disposable and here and gone in minutes.There is such an inundation of great and innovative stuff, but also trash. I’m not trying to bash people, but so much content is clearly not edited and done for speed over quality. A post about some rapper on a site that has literally 100 posts a day is now at the point where it’s seen as white noise. To stand out online, something has to be so specific and organically viral. We actually doubled down on analog; we partnered with the record club Vinyl Me Please to produce a vinyl album as a companion to the 20th anniversary issue, and we sold hundreds of pre-orders without even a track listing. They’re two beautiful pieces that can sit on a table or a shelf.Our print sales were way up last year, and this year they’re going to beat last year. This vinyl bundle has far exceeded what I thought it was going to do, and we aren’t even far into the marketing of it yet. We’re at a time when you’re just getting hit with so much content and endless scroll and feeds, and I think there’s more value in print than ever before. We’re even seeing advertisers come back. We’re having our best revenue year, in terms of print advertising, over the last four years. And it’s driving revenue in other places. Our shop has been on fire, selling physical merchandise—hoodies, T-shirts, on-demand printing—we sold 500 Young Thug cover posters in the first five hours. So in terms of keeping the brand strong and finding the right extensions—not opening up like, Fader restaurants—having the physical cover is an amazing leverage point for us... [Print is] the anchor. It’s a beautiful, physical, coffee-table magazine, so when YouTube comes to us to create video content with them, they know that we have that right aesthetic and a high-end artistic value that we believe in and protect... [Big advertiser] brands can get an event series, integrated with digital content, social, video, print in a package that’s going to hit our audience for the cost of one second of a 60-second Monday Night Football commercial. A young person who is super-engaged is attracted to Fader because we help create culture, we’re not just covering things that happen, and I think that mindset is very appealing to brands"... Cohn also talks about future directions, including video and film.
Snap Courts Publishers for News Tab
The Information: "Snap is in early talks with media companies about powering a dedicated news section inside the Snapchat app, according to six people familiar with the talks. The planned news section represents a do-over of sorts for its efforts to present real-time, breaking news from a handful of trusted news partners. While news from those partners is currently mixed in with a jumble of other content, Snap’s planned news “tab” will be a distinct area within the Discover section of the social media app, said the people, all of whom requested anonymity because the plans are confidential"...
Financial Times Promotes 'New Agenda' In Branding Campaign
Digiday: "The Financial Times has been paying close attention to what growth beyond 1 million paying readers looks like, after crossing that milestone this April. Like a lot of publishers, the key lies in reaching younger audiences and building subscribers overseas.In order to do that, this week the publisher launched a global-brand awareness campaign tied to driving subscriber acquisitions, which involved dropping the paywall for a day. “The new agenda” campaign is the FT’s aim to position itself as value-driven and emphasize the reporting it’s already doing that covers business and political disruption and fragmentation. For instance, the campaign will promote reporting on areas like the need to change corporate purpose and how advertisers should take more responsibility for cleaning up the web. “This is big for us because it’s the FT updating what it’s for,” said Finola McDonnell, chief communications and marketing officer. “It’s not repositioned itself in over a decade — where FT readers have been focused on stability after the financial crises — hence the merit of dropping the paywall to show an authentic representation of the brand. We want to be out there in a more value-driven space.” All FT content will be open access from 4 p.m. Sept. 17 to 8 a.m. Sept. 19, U.K. time, so global readers all get a full 24-hours-worth of access. The FT, whose entire business model is based on creating journalism worth paying for, doesn’t drop its paywall lightly: the last time was in 2015 as part of celebrations for the FT’s acquisition by Japanese media group Nikkei.Unsurprisingly, traffic increased 40% when it last dropped the paywall. The publisher wouldn’t share specific traffic numbers but hopes to improve on that previous record. Average conversion rate currently from trial subscribers to full subscribers is 50%, a figure it hopes to maintain during the offer. According to McDonnell, as part of this campaign, the FT will dial up the brand-awareness activity in the U.S. where the brand is less well known than in the U.K., with the plan to drive subscribers further down the line. While it wouldn’t share the number of U.S. readers, 70% of FT readers are based outside the U.K.Global advertising will run until the end of October and include out-of-home, digital, mobile and display, featuring ad copy taken from the FT’s journalism and aimed to fuel debate, like how to make air travel sustainable, or how to feed the planet. Although McDonnell expects the brand campaign to last roughly two years as it iterates.For the first time, tying the brand-marketing campaign with subscriber acquisition clearly shows how the FT is internally and externally aligning all business around this focus."...
Google Search Results to Favor Original Reporting
WWD: "Google is looking to prioritize original reporting over what’s most recent when it comes to search results.In a new blog post, Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of News, said the world’s biggest search engine just made some changes to its sorting algorithm in an effort to surface and keep surfacing news reporting that is original, i.e., not pieces of content that re-report big stories that are getting good SEO or trending. “In today’s fast-paced world of news, the original reporting on a subject doesn’t always stay in the spotlight for long,” Gingras wrote.Until now, Google’s News search tended to surface whatever was most recent and most comprehensive going by the hour, so a breaking story, an investigative piece or a big exclusive interview would often fall off the first pages of search results, pushed down by follow-ups from other outlets"... The move will also likely appeal to news publishers, the smaller of which often have stories they break or exclusives they secure overshadowed by larger or more popular publishers and web sites that maybe do their own follow-up reporting, but did not do the work of breaking a big story... Google’s change to news prioritization comes the same week that executives from major news outlets, including Gannett, The Los Angeles Times and News Corp. through advocacy group The News Media Alliance, went to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress to approve the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The bill is aimed at giving publishers more negotiating power with platforms like Google and Facebook, which operate largely by surfacing publisher content."
Opinion: Redefining 'Magazine'
In WNIP, commissioning editor Esther Kezia Thorpe writes in part: "To get around defining magazines who no longer have a print aspect, the industry has come up with the handy term ‘magazine media’. This nicely encompasses titles both online and in paper, and means we can talk about Snapchat Stories, YouTube videos and podcasts from publishers all under this one definition. But there’s a problem here. When a magazine no longer has a print element, what sets it apart from the hundreds of thousands of places that publish content online?... A magazine, according to many dictionary definitions, is published at regular intervals, is often on a particular subject, and contains a mix of content such as articles and stories. Most are illustrated with photographs or other forms of art. Some definitions even specify that a magazine is a publication with a paper cover, but using the wider term of ‘magazine media’, we can set aside the paper element for now. When it comes to translating this online, the ‘published’ part gets tricky. Few publishers push out content in bundled ‘editions’ any more as it just isn’t how content is consumed online. Instead, magazine websites publish articles, videos and other content in the same way as most other websites do; in a continuous stream. In fact, as of March 2019, 56% of content published by magazine brands is non-edition based, up 6% on 2018. Compare this to 2013 when print and digital editions made up 73% of a magazine brand’s mix... As publishing increasingly moves away from issues, editions and ‘bundled content’, the lines which have defined so many publishing terms over the years are beginning to blur. Let’s consider two examples here. Glamour, which now publishes just two print magazines a year, has successfully undergone a comprehensive digital transformation to place themselves where their young, beauty-conscious audience lives: on their phones, and on social media. Now most industry professionals would still call Glamour a magazine, or magazine media... But let’s consider Refinery29 alongside it; another women’s media brand. Now R29 is indisputably an online women’s title, but is rarely referred to as a magazine. Yet if you compare what the two do online in terms of publishing content for women throughout the day, there is very little difference... In fact, what’s to stop newsletters being called magazines? Ironically, the timed nature of a curated email drop is closer to the original definition of a ‘periodical’ release of a magazine than many ‘magazine media’ titles publishing content online today... Stop and think for a moment about what the next generation will consider a magazine to be... Titles many of us still associate with a rich print heritage will be fighting to stand out among the nimbler pureplays online. We either expand our definition of ‘magazine media’ to be more inclusive of publishers without a print legacy, or we risk the term becoming as irrelevant as many of the print copies it once served. Media is evolving all the time, and so should the language we use to describe it. So how will magazines of the future be defined? When we talk to our children or grandchildren in the years to come about what they think a magazine is, what do we want to hear?"
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Walmart, Capital One Team On Cash-Back Credit Cards
USA Today: Walmart and Capital One "announced the Sept. 24 launch of the Capital One Walmart Rewards Credit Card Program with two new cards offering up to 5% back on Walmart purchases. The program's Mastercard will be accepted everywhere and the private-label Walmart Rewards Card is only for store purchases. Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, Walmart services and digital acceleration, said in a statement, the company's "mission has always been to help customers save money so that they can live better" and the new program "helps customers earn more when paying for things in and outside of Walmart." Walmart is taking a page from Apple with its new Apple Card by offering higher cashback earnings on select purchases made by mobile payments versus the physical card.The 5% cashback in-store offer, which is an introductory offer for the first 12 months, only applies to store purchases using Walmart Pay, the retailer's exclusive mobile payment.After the introductory offer, the cards will offer 2% back on Walmart store purchases. Walmart.com purchases, including Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery, give 5% back. Current Walmart cardholders will be converted to one of the two new cards and can start earning the rewards Oct. 11 with Walmart Pay before the new cards arrive beginning in November, according to the news release. Current cardholders also will be eligible for the 5% in-store Walmart Pay introductory offer through Oct. 14, 2020"...
Meijer Rolls Out Shop & Scan Checkout to All Stores
PG: "Meijer has completed a transformative 15-month initiative to streamline the checkout process at all of its stores.The company has now introduced Shop & Scan technology at all of its stores across the Midwest. “As we’ve rolled the program out in six states, the response has been incredibly enthusiastic,” said Stephanie Brackenridge, director of customer experience for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer. “Customers have appreciated the ability to have a choice in shopping how they want, depending on how their day is going. Many are finding the opportunity to personalize their store visit with a cell phone is a great way to save time and help avoid lines.” Shop & Scan works through an innovative mobile app that allows customers to shop and bag as they go, giving them the opportunity to avoid lines and personalize their shopping depending on their day. Once they download the free Meijer Mobile App, customers use Shop & Scan to scan bar codes on items and bag their own groceries. A running total of items purchased is viewable as they shop throughout the store. Once a customer has finished shopping, they simply scan their phone at a self-checkout lane and pay, making the checkout experience quick and easy. Brackenridge said that the most popular features among Meijer customers included the integrated shopping list, running total, and the ability to clip any available mPerks loyalty program coupons for items scanned.In addition to Shop & Scan, the retailer offers Meijer Home Delivery and a pickup option at all 246 stores in six states, providing customers multiple ways to shop the retailer's stores depending on their needs for that day. Since the original pilot launch last year in Grand Rapids, the Meijer Mobile app has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times, while the initiative has steadily expanded to stores throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Once the app was downloaded, more than 80 percent of Meijer customers have repeatedly used Shop & Scan as part of their shopping experience"...
EEOC: Walmart 'Likely' Discriminated Against Female Workers
WSJ: Walmart "likely discriminated against 178 female workers by paying less or denying promotions because of their gender, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in memos viewed by The Wall Street Journal.The EEOC documents ask Walmart and the women who filed complaints to come to a just resolution of the matter, which could include a settlement and changes to Walmart’s practices, say labor lawyers. If Walmart and the women don’t reach an agreement, the EEOC could file a lawsuit against the retailer. The determination by the federal regulator marks a milestone in a nearly two-decade effort by current and former store workers to seek damages from the retail behemoth for discrimination"...
Gen Z Could Revive Physical Stores
CNBC: "81% of Gen Z -- consumers 14 to 24 -- prefer to shop in stores, and 73% like to discover new products in stores, according to a new survey by A.T. Kearney. More than half said shopping in stores allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world. Because of stress, Gen Z also tends to purchase health and wellness products more than other generations... Brick-and-mortar stores allow for a new type of “retail therapy,” with 58% of the group saying browsing shelves and clothing racks allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world"... The survey, which sampled 1,500 consumers across four generations, also found that because Gen Z is particularly stressed out, the group tends to purchase products in the health and wellness categories more than other generations.Forty-six percent of Gen Z said they were concerned about their health and mental well-being, compared with 38% of millennials. Nearly a quarter, or about 23%, of Gen Z people surveyed said they were stressed or overwhelmed by the news, and 22% reported being stressed or overwhelmed by social media.But even though Gen Z cares about being socially and environmentally conscious, they’re unwilling to pay more for those products. More than half said they are looking for products that are environmentally sustainable, but only 38% said they were willing to pay a premium for them. According to the data, retailers should also be more mindful of customer service and shopping experiences, both in stores and online. A poor online experience has prevented 22% of Gen Z shoppers from making a purchase three to five times in the past year. In a store that rate rises to 24%. By comparison, 15% of millennials halted an online purchase and 21% halted an in-store purchase three to five times over the past year because of lousy experience"...
Whole Foods Market Slammed Over Benefit Cuts
PG: "Critics are lashing out at Amazon after Whole Foods Market, which the online behomoth owns, revealed last week that it would be cutting benefits for part-time employees, effective Jan. 1. 2020.According to Business Insider, the benefit cuts will affect part-time Whole Foods employees who work at least 20 hours a week. The Austin, Texas-based grocer confirmed the change in a statement to USA Today... According to USA Today, the company said it's working to help employees find resources for alternative health care options or to explore moving them to full-time positions offering health benefits.Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, weighed in on the move on Saturday, calling it "part of the casual dehumanization of working people."Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are both democratic candidates for president, used the decision as an opportunity to advertise their Medicare-for-all proposals for health care reform"...
Tops Signs on to Clean Up Its Communities
PG: "Tops Markets LLC has enrolled in the 2019 Clean Up the World (CUTW) program. Established in 1993, Australia-based CUTW is one of the world’s largest community-based environmental programs, involving community groups, schools, businesses and local governments in activities that address local ecological issues.To fulfill its commitment to the program, the grocer is holding a Clean Up the World Weekend on Sept. 20-22 at all 159 Tops stores across the chain's three-state market area. Over the course of the three-day event, 10,000 reusable bags made of 100% recyclable materials will randomly be given away, encouraging shoppers to use recycled bags rather than plastic ones – an especially pertinent activity in New York state, where a plastic bag ban is poised to go into effect in March 2020.Shoppers will also learn more about earth-friendly brands available at Tops, among them Full Circle, Mrs. Meyer’s, Method and Seventh Generation, the company’s associates will take part in environmental cleanups in the communities it serves"...
Retailers Approach Cutting-Edge Tech Cautiously
RetailWire: "Some of the most headline-grabbing retail technology is just the kind of stuff that retailers are hesitating to adopt, according to a new survey. Robots, drones, beacons and facial recognition have thus far been adopted by fewer than 10% of retailers, according to a Total Retail report. This is despite other forms of retail technology, such as inventory management and order management systems, being adopted by 69%. It might be the case for the foreseeable future as well; while nearly three-fourths of those polled plan to increase tech spending over the next year, less than 20% plan to invest in the four cutting-edge technologies. While few retailers appear to be adopting these hotly discussed technologies, some big names have piloted them. None of these pilots have come without criticism over questions of usefulness, privacy and safety depending on the technology"...
Dunnhumby Labs Launched to Accelerate Tech Innovation
PG: "Global customer data science leader Dunnhumby has introduced Dunnhumby Labs (dh Labs), an internal accelerator created to nurture innovative technologies that expand and advance the company’s current product offerings in the global retail marketplace. Kyle Fugere, who also heads up Dunnhumby Ventures, is leading the new business unit... The dh Labs team is now working on various products to address three areas of common challenges for retailers and brands. 1) 360 View of the Customer: HuYu is a B2C mobile app that sources behavioral, attitudinal and lifestyle data directly from verified customers, generating insights for retailers and brands to help them understand their customers’ attitudes and behavior, and better respond to their needs. Enabling a 360-degree view of the customer with products like HuYu, Dunnhumby can now deliver “rest of market” and “rest of basket” insights to retailers and CPGs. 2) Speed-of-Thought Insights: The OneFour analytical engine quickly calculates customer-based metrics such as household penetration, with results available in milliseconds rather than minutes or hours, as in the past. In today’s competitive environment, speed-of-thought insight is increasingly important to retailers that are no longer willing to wait for answers to crucial business questions. 3) Automated Machine Learning: dh Evolve is an automated machine-learning platform designed to solve complex retail challenges such as understanding customer churn and predicting propensity to purchase and in what retail channel"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: