Retailers Getting Into Magazine Publishing

Mar 24, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A recently announced deal between Wal-Mart and Time Inc. to publish a magazine sold exclusively through the retailer’s stores is likely to spur imitators, reports Reuters.

Wal-Mart controls about 15 percent of magazine newsstand sales and, according to Abe Peck, a Northwestern University journalism professor, if an exclusive magazine was well received
by the retailer’s shoppers, then others such as Target and Nordstrom would likely roll out their own publications targeted to the consumers who shop in those stores.

Peter Kreisky, a publishing consultant, told the news service “he thinks more retailers may begin exploring ways they can get into publishing as a way to reach out to customers.
He pointed to new media ventures being eyed by companies such as McDonald’s Corp. and Starbucks Corp as examples of how companies are expanding their offerings.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on retailers publishing magazines such as the deal between Wal-Mart and
Time Inc.?

The concern raised in the Reuters piece was about scale and whether retailers, not named Wal-Mart, would have the resources to handle such a project.

We are less concerned with scale and resources, since retailers have self or co-published magazines in the past to great effect.

The warehouse club operator BJ’s, for example, produces a newsprint tabloid several times a year with a combination of editorial of interest to its customers
along with product information and coupons.

We recently came across a product published by the direct marketing/couponing folks at Valassis for Ahold’s Giant Foods division. The mini-magazine (smaller
than digest size) called Solutions appears to be underwritten by manufacturers who get ad/coupon space for publications delivered to a targeted audience of the retailer’s customers.

Anderson – Moderator

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