Cutting through the clutter
In an effort spearheaded by MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, nearly 140 magazine brands from 37 companies have joined forces in an industry-wide marketing campaign to share the message that magazine media delivers the most credible, trusted and engaging content over any other form of media. The central theme, “Magazine Media. Better. Believe It.” addresses magazine media’s ability to produce professional, brand-safe content across platforms. Launched in October and running through spring 2018 in both print and digital properties, the campaign is expected to reach 75% of U.S. adults. Drug Store News spoke with MPA, the Association of Magazine Media president and CEO Linda Thomas Brooks about the impact of magazines in retail.
Drug Store News: Why are you doing this campaign?
Linda Thomas Brooks: In a media world where 3-out-of-4 Americans say they have fallen for a fake headline and marketers’ ads are showing up in unsafe digital environments, we felt it was important to remind both consumers and marketers that magazine media communicate with an authority that people trust.
DSN: How does it benefit the retail trade?
LTB: Beyond “fake news,” information on everything from health care to beauty advice is getting more convoluted every day. Magazine brands help consumers cut through the clutter by serving up content they can trust and recommending products with authority, extending that same trust to advertisers.
Retailers will benefit in two ways: reminding consumers that magazines are a shortcut to quality information will increase newsstand sales, and more advertising in magazines will drive product sales at retail.
DSN: What is the current landscape of magazines at retail?
LTB: Retailers face challenges that range from the number of trips customers make to a store and how much they put in their basket, to maintaining loyalty and engagement. Magazine advertising can address all of these hurdles.
Marketers are realizing that context matters and beginning to change their advertising strategies. Magazine media builds brands and sells products in a safe and transparent environment, with demonstrable results. Consumers believe in magazine brands, and they transfer that belief to the advertising.
DSN: In addition to the campaign, how are you addressing retail challenges for magazines?
LTB: The campaign is just one of the ways we are addressing retail challenges.
We also have been meeting individually with retailers, advertisers and agencies. Magazines have long been known as the most influential of all media, and now, reliable third-party research proves that they also are the best place to drive sales. Nielsen Catalina Solutions analyzed 1,400 campaigns across media types, and magazines came out on top with an average return on advertising spend of $3.94 per dollar spent. No other media even comes close.
And we have the Print Magazine Sales Guarantee, which promises a refund if advertisements don’t boost sales. The industry has done more than 80 of these guarantees and has not had to give a penny back.
DSN: What do retailers and manufacturers need to do?
LTB: We believe the magazine media industry has a moment in time to seize the conversation and make a meaningful statement. Retailers and manufacturers should also feel there is opportunity.
While selling magazines at retail is very important to us, retailers should view their relationship with these brands as an important, trusted connection for them with the consumers and the products in their store.
DSN: What can the retailer expect from the campaign and the industry in the year ahead? How will it be measured?
LTB: It is early, but the campaign has already received positive feedback, social media engagement and considerable press attention. A Coastal Living reader wrote the magazine applauding the campaign, saying, “Since I have long ago given up on television’s selective news and prefer to read my news, it was good to see this in your magazine.” It’s rare for a reader to take action on praising an advertisement, and it reflects on how this campaign is resonating with consumers.
CPG clients have been receptive to the messages, as well, and agree with the messaging. Ultimately, we will know it succeeded when we see magazine media advertising budgets increase, leading to more retail sales.
Building beauty engagement
Since 1990, Cosmetic Promotions has offered its clients experiential marketing for beauty brands and retailers. With services that include product sampling, demonstrations, launch kits and sweepstakes, among other services, founder and CEO Joann Marks said the company’s aim is to help its clients save money and labor.
Drug Store News caught up with Marks to discuss her company’s offerings and how its clients can set themselves apart from the competition.
Drug Store News: Tell us about Cosmetic Promotions. What’s your sales pitch to retailers and manufacturers?
Joann Marks: We help the retailers by creating beauty programs that engage, educate and delight their customers. For the manufacturers, we create customized experiential marketing tools for the introduction, sampling, and training of beauty and personal care products. Our “events in a box” are distributed to the stores to energize store associates’ interactions with customers. We ship 750,000 of these kits every year. In the last 10 years, we have placed more than 70 million samples into targeted consumers hands and provided live training to almost 60,000 beauty advisors/store associates. We do all this via a “shared vendor” model that has saved our clients more than $20 million — and tens of thousands of labor hours — since 1990.
DSN: As retailers and suppliers strive for differentiation in the marketplace, how can you help them set themselves apart?
JM: We are the only experiential marketing company that is exclusive to beauty — and the mass side of beauty at that. We are small enough to respond quickly and flexibly, and large enough to handle all their needs. From program creation and facilitation to full-scale advertising campaigns. plus, we are the only agency with more than 8,000 beauty experts — professional makeup artists, licensed skin/nail and hair professionals — listed. No other company has that depth or capability.
DSN: You are involved in in-store activities? Tell us about them and how it builds sales and consumer loyalty?
JM: Our entire focus is on increasing customer interaction and sales at store level. Therefore, we are the expert at in-store activations. Some 89% of all first-time purchases are the result of a trial. So, we design and implement makeover events that allow customers to try before they buy. This is essential to capturing and building consumer loyalty. If a product cannot be tried on at the store, our amazing sampling events provide the consumer with a trial in their home.
At the DSN Industry Issues Summit in November, one of the panelists talked about “another layer of intimacy.” That perfectly describes what we do. I just read a new article that said since retailers have cut costs is by reducing the number of store associates on staff — some 89,000 jobs in the last 12 months — that has reduced opportunities for consumer engagement. Yet studies prove that consumers are demanding more associate assistance — at least 70% report their in-store shopping experience would be improved by a sales associate with a deep knowledge of products.
DSN: What about the brands/manufacturers? What are you doing to help them?
JM: Once a brand uses us for a program at a chain, they realize we are a perfect partner for a much larger range of projects. Right now, the hot ticket seems to be gift-with-purchase items that we can develop for the brands. We also create customized displays that are perfect for new launches and sampling initiatives.
DSN: What have been some of your favorite projects?
JM: Hands-down my favorite project was our Glam Camp back-to-school event that included a national model search in conjunction with Seventeen Magazine. We created a complete “surround-sound” event that included in-store displays, a mail-in GWP, store displays/signage, and magazine spread. Our company didn’t source anything out – we handled it soup to nuts including the web design, social media campaign and even the voting software. I had the privilege of interviewing dozens of young ladies who entered the contest and got to accompany the annual winners to New York City for their professional magazine shoot. It was so much fun and there were so many moving parts that it was very exciting to work on. The results were fantastic, with sales up 13.5% over the previous year, coupon redemption almost 14% ahead and return on vendor investment was at 150:1.
A quick look at the top GM trends for 2018
Drug Store News has assembled a list of top trends positioned to impact retail in 2018 that general merchandise companies can get in on.
• Home decor: Trends to look for include geometric patterns; typography messaging on home goods; such natural elements as hard-carved wood being featured in lamps, bowls and pots; fringe on pillows and blankets; hand-painted metallic elements; and iridescent accents and accessories.
• Florals: Such floral flavors as lavender, rose and hibiscus being used in granola, latte and sweets. And according to officials at Whole Foods, look for elderflower to gain in popularity in 2018.
• Technology: Small, portable and highly customizable personal 3-D printers are a growing area of interest for consumers
• Charging accessories: For many, smartphones are a necessity, but it is no secret they are power drains. Portable power banks solve that problem and come in a variety of styles, colors and capacities.
• Fandom items: Fan wearables are always hot, whether promoting a sports team, hobby, lifestyle or TV show. Key products include mugs, T-shirts, stickers, car decals, mouse pads or totes.
• Lab-grade equipment: Formerly only available to professionals, high-tech devices such as spectrometers will soon be available to the public. For anyone looking to better understand what is in a product this will be the must-have item for 2018.
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