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October 20, 2017

October 20, 2017

Publishing News

Rachael Ray Every Day Redesigns
Meredith Corp. describes the redesign of Rachael Ray Every Day, debuting with the November issue, as "offering a more contemporary and personalized experience," with "a vibrant and elevated approach to photography and visuals, updated layouts and formats, and a revamped editorial lineup." Led by new editor-in-chief/content director Lauren Iannotti, "the print redesign was a collaborative team effort with art director Phoebe Flynn Rich, Allrecipes creative director Mike Belknap, and design consultant Jen Walter." The magazine still focuses on food, home, lifestyle, travel, and entertaining, but "'the look is cleaner and cooler with an Insta-intimacy that our audience looks for,' said Iannotti. 'It's a bit more upscale, but not uptight.'"

Another Chinese Company Eyes Stake in Forbes
NY Post: "Another Chinese company is said to be preparing to take a minority stake in Forbes Media, which is already 95% owned by Asian investors via Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media. The Forbes family has only a 5% stake in the company, and Steve Forbes is the only family member still active in the company. Yinji Entertainment & Media is said to be eyeing the new stake, according to a report in Caixin, an English-language publication that reports on Chinese businesses. Yinji has set up a $256M investment fund that is buying FBS Entertainment and Leisure, which in turn will be used to buy the Forbes stake--which comes with rights to the Forbes brand in the “Greater China” region. Forbes Media declined to comment."

Rodale Jobs Safe Through January
NY Post: "Rodale chief executive Maria Rodale spoke with anxious staffers at a town-hall meeting at the company’s Emmaus, Pa., HQ on Thursday morning to try to calm employee jitters about the sale to Hearst. Rodale told the staffers that they all had guaranteed jobs until January, when the estimated sale, announced on Wednesday, is expected to close. But the jobs-until-January promise was 'cold comfort if you’re going to be out of a job,' one person at the meeting told [Post's Keith Kelly]. Rodale, granddaughter of company founder J.I. Rodale, also let slip that senior-level executives “will be replaced” by Hearst executives. Hearst is pledging, at least initially, to keep all Rodale titles, including the highly profitable Men’s Health and Runner’s World, and to maintain some kind of presence in Emmaus, the sleepy town where the family-owned publisher has been based since 1942... '[Hearst] offered a transition for Emmaus, but nobody is sure for how long,' said one town- hall meeting attendee. But the source noted, 'The deal doesn’t include the real estate--so it doesn’t look like they plan to be there for the long haul.' Rodale’s stable of titles also includes Women’s Health, Bicycling, Prevention and the digital-only Rodale’s Organic Life. Today, Bicycling is losing about $1M a year. and Runner’s World, while still making money, has seen its profits decline precipitously, said sources familiar with the title’s finances. Prevention was converted into an ad-free format a year ago and is believed to be marginally profitable. 'I’d think [Hearst] would sell off Bicycling and Runner’s World and shut down Prevention,' said the source close to Rodale. Hearst declined to comment on its long-term plans."

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Indie Bookstore Weathers Alt-Right Attacks
PW: "At the conclusion of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association annual meeting in San Francisco Thursday, Berkeley’s Revolution Books manager Reiko Redmonde spoke to her fellow booksellers about enduring a month-long campaign by a loose coalition of conservative activists who describe themselves as “right-wing media.' On Sept. 24, conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos made a brief visit to Berkeley, an event that drew police from around the region. That evening, a band of between 30 and 40 right-wing activists stormed Revolution Books. The attackers recorded the episode on video, rattling windows and confronting patrons. Since the initial incident, these activists have orchestrated at least five more visits to the store--posting their exploits in online videos. In one clip, an activist shouts at the camera: 'Wherever you hang out, wherever you spill Communist literature--we’re coming to a f***ing bookstore near you.' In another clip, a protester elbows a bookstore supporter in the face, smashing his glasses. The most recent incident occurred on Oct. 17, when conservative activists assembled and chanted outside Revolution Books after the store closed... The harassment extends beyond physical confrontations. Right-wing activists also “dox” their targets, sharing opponents’ personal information online. In digital forums, these activists have released contact information for bookstore employees, patrons, and supporters. Revolution Books has received up to 60 calls a day from people mocking or threatening the store. The insults have spread to online review sites as well. 'Revolution Books is a Communist Recruitment center trying to brainwash kids to do their dirty work for them,' wrote one Yelp reviewer. Asked if the campaign could shutter the bookstore, manager Redmonde responded, 'Hell no! We’re not going anywhere. We are needed now more than ever.' On Oct. 14, the bookstore hosted a fundraiser; its headline was “Support Revolution Books Against Fascist Attacks and Threats.” The store now prominently stocks history titles about white supremacy and the rise of fascism in Italy, Germany, and Latin America. For other booksellers who might face a similar kind of intimidation campaign, Redmonde had this advice: 'We are there. We’ve got your back. We’ll go to your bookstore and stand in front of it. And everyone else in your town should do the same.'"

Meredith's Christine Guilfoyle on Magnolia Journal's First Year
Excerpts from Christine Guilfoyle, SVP, publisher Meredith National Media Group, in a Q&A about Magnolia Journal, with Samir Husni. On why the title is successful: "I have spent my entire career in the print brand space, and frankly, when you give consumers what it is that they want in a space where a specific niche is being filled, there is obviously success attached to that... [It] has nothing to do with what we were able to do, it really has to do with how incredibly involved [Joanna and Chip Gaines] are. And really, let’s face it, it’s Jo. Chip appears, he has a column, but the magazine is really her labor of love. It is her ability to translate all of her passion and enthusiasm around things that she loves: her family, the celebration of holidays, being grateful and hospitable; all of those types of things are translated into the magazine in her voice... I feel like we're just getting started... We just closed the fifth issue, which is November. Chip and Joanna announced their Target partnership; they announced that Season five is the last of their TV show. But believe me, they’re nowhere near retirement. And I think it’ll be very interesting to watch them grow and develop new ways of connecting with their consumer constituents... At this point we are continuing with the quarterly frequency, so we’ll do four issues again next year: February, May, August and November. And each one of those issues has a theme, like we had this year. So, it’s intentionality, curiosity, generosity, and contentment..."

Will Graydon Carter Appear on Vanity Fair's Cover?
"Graydon Carter is giving himself a farewell gift. He will appear on the cover of the February issue, of Vanity Fair his last as editor-in-chief, sources tell [NY Post's] Media Ink. "Annie Leibovitz will shoot the cover, traditionally a triple gatefold featuring Hollywood stars. The magazine, as always, keeps the names of the stars on the cover a closely guarded secret until the issue is set to hit newsstands. In that spirit, it wouldn’t confirm Carter’s expected presence. 'We don’t comment on upcoming covers,' a spokeswoman sniffed. Meanwhile, Condé Nast hopes to have his replacement named by Oct. 31, one source said. Carter, who has led the magazine for 25 years, plans to step away around Dec. 1. The New Yorker Editor-in-Chief David Remnick is helping Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour--who is also the Condé Nast artistic director--find a replacement."

Facebook Tests Online Subs, Paywalls
As promised, Facebook has begun testing a new system that will allow publishers to sell subscriptions and enforce their paywalls in coordination with the network, extending an olive branch to publishers that have seen their audiences fluctuate and displeased by poor monetization on its platform. The new subscription sales tool, developed under the aegis of Facebook’s Journalism Project and announced in a blog post on Thursday, is integrated with Facebook’s Instant Articles. It allows publishers to direct users to their own Web sites, off the Facebook platform, in order to sign up.Facebook users who already have a subscription can access content by signing into their account via Instant Articles. Facebook is offering publishers two paywall options, one which allows users to read up to 10 free articles per month before requiring them to subscribe, and another that allows publishers to choose which articles are free to view and which will be behind the paywall. At launch, the new subscription sales system will only be compatible with Android devices, due to Facebook’s inability to come to an agreement with Apple over sharing revenue from the sales. Facebook is testing the sub sales system with Hearst, Tronc, The Economist, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Telegraph in the U.K., as well as other big European newspapers and magazines, such as Bild, Spiegel and Le Parisien. It should expand to include other publishers in the near future. Looking ahead, Facebook also promised to share more user data to help publishers target and tailor both content and sales offers to current and potential subscribers."

Cooper Hefner: Playboy's Focus Shifting to Online, Video
Speaking at a MediaPost conference this week, Playboy Enterprises chief creative officer Cooper Hefner, son of recently deceased founder Hugh, said that starting next year, Playboy will completely revamp its website and put up a paywall, to look "vastly different," with a “completely different" user experience that will mostly be hidden behind a paywall. He said that he did not agree with the “CPM model” of the site or the [short-lived] decision to remove nudity from the magazine. 'What we see with the media properties that are actually cashflow positive is they all exist as a subscription business...Hefner said. 'The idea is to transition a lot of the clout that still exists in the magazine to dot com'... He admitted that it's a challenge to convince millennials, 'who are not necessarily comfortable spending on content unless you are talking about Netflix or Hulu,' to pay for a subscription. He predicts [that Playboy will get] a lot of international subscriptions (one of its biggest licensing markets is China)... 'We are shifting away from putting a lot of effort into the magazine,' he said... Our biggest challenge was recognizing we should not continue spending the amount of time we did to execute a magazine. My dad put a tremendous amount of emphasis on the publication,'  because in his father’s mind, 'the magazine is and was ultimately responsible for everything else that came along with it.' Going forward, the company will invest a 'tremendous amount more' in video. 'We are doing the exact same things that competitors like Complex and Vice and others are doing,' Hefner said... Playboy is also looking into emerging technologies, like augmented and virtual reality..."


Retail News

Wal-Mart's Lore: VR, AI and Chatbots Key in Retail's Future
CNET: "At The Wall Street Journal's annual tech conference, Marc Lore, Wal-Mart's head of US e-commerce, offered a broad vision for the future of retail that tied in virtual reality, voice shopping and artificial intelligence... [W-M] has been gobbling up online shopping sites, including Lore's startup, for which it paid $3.3B. It's also been expanding into new areas, such as testing out using its associates to deliver packages and launching an e-commerce incubator called Store No. 8. That work may be just the start. Lore started by mentioning smart speakers, such as the Google Home, which, incidentally, just launched a tie-in with W-M... [With voice assistants, within five to 10 years], 'You're going to be able to talk to your car, your home, your phone in a very conversational way, [as you] would with somebody on the floor of a brick-and-mortar retail specialist,' and the voice assistant will know you individually. he said. Eventually, shoppers will be able to rattle off their grocery lists in the car and whether they want to pick up the items or have them delivered. For other items, people could, for example, start conversations with an assistant to figure out what kind of TV to order, Lore said..."

Flickinger Lauds Supervalu’s Acquisitions
PG: "Supervalu Inc.’s recently revealed pending acquisition of Associated Grocers of Florida, mere months after it purchased Unified Grocers, has prompted longtime supermarket observer Burt Flickinger III, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group, to describe the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based retailer-wholesaler as having pulled off 'the two most important acquisitions in the U.S. and Canada in decades.' Certainly, the transactions were company’s 'two best acquisitions in at least 25 years,' he said... He asserted that the two recent 'sensational back-to-back deals' were 'decisively and opportunistically' engineered by Supervalu president and CEO Mark Gross, who beat out such rivals as C&S Wholesale Grocers and Associated Wholesale Grocers to acquire the companies for 'bargain basement prices.' Flickinger noted that Associated Grocers was actually worth between $215M on the low end and a quarter of a billion on the high end, meaning that Supervalu’s $180M purchase price for the regional family-owned wholesaler represented a 25%-35% discount on valuation dollars. What’s more, Associated Grocers transaction positions Supervalu to become the most important wholesaler for the lucrative Hispanic and Asian-American markets, according to Flickinger, adding that Latinos are responsible for 90 percent of total U.S. population growth, while Asians make up the balance of that growth. He went on to explain that both acquisitions, which he characterized as 'crown jewels,' gave Supervalu 'unprecedented procurement power,' both of CPGs and private label items, enabling them to lower prices in their stores in a bid to be more competitive, which would in turn lead to increased customer counts and greater profitability. Flickinger said he believes that with its larger scale and financial heft, the company will be able to grow the acquired companies beyond what their original management teams had been able to achieve..."

Target Opens Small-Format Store in Midtown Manhattan
SN: "Target Stores is opening a small-footprint location in Manhattan on Friday, one of about 10 of the chain’s new, urban-format stores to open this week. The 43K-sq.-ft. store, in Herald Square just a block away from Macy’s flagship location, will have a small, grab-and-go grocery department on one level and a more extensive grocery offering on a lower level. It includes 16 self-service checkouts, and will offer same-day delivery..."

Loblaw Cutting 500 Management Jobs, Invest in E-Commerce
Reuters: "Canadian grocery chain Loblaw Co Ltd is cutting about 500 jobs across the company, and plans to reinvest the savings into digital and e-commerce services, the company said... The job cuts, which began on Monday and make up 0.25% of the Toronto-based company’s workforce, will apply to executive and management positions, but will not affect store-level employees... Grocery operator Metro Inc. last week said it would cut 180 full-time and 100 part-time jobs as part of an effort to modernize and automate part of its distribution network following its decision to buy pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group for C$4.5B..."

ROFDA, Rosie Bring Online Shopping to Indie Grocers
PG: "Retailer Owned Food Distributors & Associates (ROFDA) and Rosie have partnered to bring Rosie’s online shopping platform to 2,000 independent grocery stores across the country over the next two years. The partnership will provide omnichannel online shopping programs, education on best practices for digital engagement, and technology leadership to independent stores by harnessing the cooperation of the nation’s wholesalers to provide an advanced, affordable ecommerce solution and create a level, competitive playing field. ROFDA has more than 7,300 member retail locations and represents more than $18.7B in annual wholesale sales, and the partnership with Rosie is in line with its mission 'to leverage all available resources, industry best practices, and business relationships to provide added value' to independent grocers..."

Nielsen: E-Commerce Driving Nearly All of FMCG Sales Growth
MNB: "Nielsen is out with a report saying that seven percent of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sales have been driven by e-commerce over the past year, which represents 'nearly all the growth' in the sector. According to the report, 'Consumers are growing more familiar and comfortable with online outlets, as consideration of trips to non-physical stores is up 50% from 2015, with sales growth from brick-and-mortar channels flat at 0.1%.' For many, the report says, “the appeal of online convenience and price savings is fueling online growth--even in the grocery, frozen foods and dairy sections. Though dollar share is small (2.4% for grocery items, 0.9% for frozen foods and 1.2% for dairy), these center store edibles have seen impressive growth in online channels.' The report goes on: “Looking across total U.S. FMCG, e-commerce is having a much larger impact on overall sales in non-food categories. Across total shopping trips, 14% of Americans say they consider buying online, which is up from 9% in 2015. Additionally, 33% more households are influenced by digital before they visit a physical store for non-food items than in 2015.'"

Opinion: Recalibrating the View of the C-Store Consumer
Writing in the firm's blog, Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic, writes: "It’s widely accepted that the core C-store customer has been and always will be male, young, blue-collar workers. Many c-store operators and suppliers refer to this consumer as 'Bubba' and operate under the long-held belief that he buys coffee, smokes, Cokes, Bud, hot dogs and not much else... The reality is that the young, male, C-store customer is more complex, open-minded and sophisticated than that stereotype suggests, and he’s not the only consumer that C-store operators and suppliers should be thinking about... Today’s young, male, C-store consumer aligns with the Functional Eater, one of seven foodservice groups identified in Technomic’s Eater Archetype consumer segmentation research. Functional Eaters skew male, millennial, lower income and are often well-educated and digitally savvy. Craveable prepared food items are a must to get their attention, but they’ve got to be satisfying--protein is key. Mini- or snack-size portions of favorite items are particularly appealing... The C-store customer far more diverse than the term 'Bubba' suggests. C stores enjoy high consumer frequency; two-thirds of C-store customers visit once a week or more often. While more males than females come through the doors that often, the gender gap is smaller than the 'Bubba' stereotype implies (68% male, 61% female). Hispanic and black consumers are more likely than Caucasians to visit a C store weekly or more often. In terms of household earning, it’s not just lower-income consumers who are frequent C-store users. While nearly three-quarters of patrons who earn $35,000 to $49,000 annually visit C stores weekly, a near equal share of convenience customers earning upwards of $100,000 do the same..."


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