How Magazines Can Regain Their Sales at Check-Out - Steve Blacker

By Jack Myers Leadership Conversations Archives
Cover image for  article: How Magazines Can Regain Their Sales at Check-Out - Steve Blacker

There are several key factors impacting the check-out decline.

Consumers are shopping less frequently, are increasingly more time pressured, much more interested in coupons that save them money and most often checking their mobile devices rather than magazine covers while waiting at check-out.

Thus, magazines need to create a mutual benefit for major chain retailers and shoppers when they purchase their titles at a check-out.

Coupon redemption is a major challenge for virtually every major chain store supplier. Over 420 billion dollars-worth of coupons are distributed annually with less than 25% being redeemed by shoppers.

Magazines, especially those with compatible editorial such as food, beauty, etc. could become significant and effective promoters of coupons. The magazine store coupons would only be available through purchasing the magazine.

Major publishers would need to call on the promotional executives responsible for coupon redemption and set up some test market promotions. For example, a food publication might even offer category exclusivity for different products during the test period. The food publication and any others, would attempt to carry a minimum of over a hundred dollars-worth of coupons savings per test issue. Their covers would prominently promote this with a major sticker stating the exclusive coupon savings for the shopper when they purchase the magazine.

In addition, there would be mobile and web site messages to shoppers in the test market areas promoting the in store coupon savings when they purchase the particular titles. The participating chain stores would also promote the magazine coupons digitally and via flyers. Ideally, the shopper would receive message on their mobile phone as they waited in line at the check-out counter promoting the new coupon savings now available in the magazines. Each magazine would promote the new coupon savings both digitally in the test areas and with all their direct mail efforts.

Since major food, drug , beauty and other advertisers have made increasing coupon redemption a major priority this new test opportunity will generate significant interest. Participating companies would pre-print the test market coupons on a four page form that would be inserted in each magazine. Whatever additional charges that would be incurred would be paid by the advertiser. Funds for this would come out of their promotion budgets. This test market promotion would benefit all three participants. The supplier has a new way to increase coupon redemption. The store can achieve increased sales. The consumer saves.

And the participating magazines achieve greater impact and relevance at check-out. A successful test could lead to more advertising and a new revenue stream of promotional dollars for magazines.

This concept cannot be offered to a traditional ad agency that looks only for free added value. Instead, either the company's promotional agency needs to be cultivated, as well as the promotional executives responsible for coupon redemption. This type of program should interest the key brand executives responsible for sales. If the test program works this concept can easily be applied to subscription offers and ad sales programs.

While the above is radically different than what has been attempted before via MPA programs in the past; unless something radically different is tested, magazines will continue to lose their significance and sales at check-out.

Steve's most recent book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is and e-mail address is

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