In-store magazine and book promotions and creative merchandising are getting additional exposure through in-store events, cross-merchandising and special issues geared to regional areas.
But retailers say they want more opportunities to tie their various food and nonfood departments in with popular selling publications. Cooking demonstrations in supermarkets like the ones sponsored by Prevention Magazine are too few and far between, they said.
"Supermarkets have a lot of natural product tie-ins for book and magazine promotions. I am receptive to more of these promotions because we have to find ways to drive our business," said Jan Winn, director of health and beauty care and general merchandise at Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass.
A nonfood director at a major Southwest chain, who did not want to be identified, said he has found opportunity to boost magazine sales when publishers like TV Guide regionalize their covers to tie-in with football teams and other sporting events.
"With this kind of promotion there will be dump bins and point-of-purchase materials to attract attention to the displays," he said. Such efforts are not only gaining additional exposure for the publishers, but they are adding value to retailers' valuable floor space.
Here is what retailers had to say about merchandising and promoting their publication sections:
category manager, general merchandise
Piggly Wiggly Carolina
Charleston Heights, S.C.
Some magazines have conducted in-store demonstrations and sampling, increasing the sales of the product demonstrated and the magazine itself. I'd like to see publishers do more event promotions and merchandising. We'd like to increase that kind of activity and will be looking for more of this from publishers. When we have off-shelf floor displays of magazines and books the publisher always searches for things that will sell better. Hardback books $15 and higher don't sell well in a grocery store. Nonfood prices like that are too high for a grocery store. Stores with a good mix of customers stand to have a better magazine section than a store patronized by lower income customers with less money to spend.
Gerland's Food Fair
We are planning to promote First for Women at half price. The supplier will reimburse us on a billback for the price difference. Readers Digest and TV Guide run limited two-week tests of lower cover prices to see if they can sell more units. They do this once in a while as a test of different prices. They'll have different prices in Houston and Dallas, and then compare the data to see what impact this has on movement. I've not seen the results. Our book and magazine business has been kind of flat. The higher cover price of paperbacks of up to $7 to $8 has taken away some of the impulse buying. We've been putting in larger reading centers of up to about 40 feet in the last several months, which is double our old departments.
director, HBC and general merchandise
Big Y Foods
Yankee Magazine sponsored a promotion last year of 50 cents off the cover price, promoted on a floorstand and in-ad with our savings club card. It was pretty successful. It doubled normal movement of the magazine. This was the first time for that publication. We had a week-long promotion in February for $5 to $9.99 Betty Crocker cookbooks. The publisher provided the floorstands positioned on an end with Betty Crocker bakeware and cutlery sets. This tied the book and general merchandise departments together. We were very pleased and sold a lot more cookbooks than normal, as well as the usual amount of kitchenware. This cross-merchandising effort sold the books. This spring we'll probably tie in pet items in flea collars, rawhide, puppy and kitty collars and dishes with a floorstand of pet training type books. It will be timed for the season of year when a lot of new kitties and puppies are coming into homes.
Byrd Food Stores
We promote shippers of the top 10 paperbacks. These shippers are out in stores for two weeks and sell down about one third to one half. We do this on an occasional basis.
We sometimes have magazine shippers. We always search for titles that will sell better. Hardback books $15 and higher don't sell well in a grocery store.
Bay City, Texas
Our magazine and book sales are excellent and up about 15% from a year ago, particularly magazines. But because book cover prices are getting so high, we're doing better with magazines. Our magazines attract middle-class customers.
Titles are picked according to store demographics, and most of our neighborhoods are blue collar and working people. In our Louisiana stores we carry a lot more hunting and fishing magazines compared with suburban Houston where there are a lot more design, home decor and craft magazines. We're considering a new checkstand magazine rack that holds more than the present 40 titles. The rack is the focal point of our checkstands, with very little candy for an uncluttered look. The low-profile racks are now about 20 inches wide, 3 feet deep and 42 to 46 inches high to maintain eye contact between the checker and customer.
manager, general merchandise and HBC
We have space for special events. One store has a large book and magazine department called Inkstand. It's 320 square feet with space for special displays. Periodicals sales are doing well, and total $3,100 a week at the store with the Inkstand section. The only time we had a special promotion was last summer when our news distributor had a local children's author come in to sign books.