Friday, August 31, 2012
Until 2010, Canadian Geographic had never published an SIP.  I am proud to have played a role in convincing them to take the plunge. 

The first issue was published on Nov. 1, 2010.  It had a retail price of $12.95 (compared to $7.95 for a regular issue). The issue sold 16,146 copies, more than any of the regular issues that year! In fact, it sold 19% more copies than the overall average in 2010.  And, because of the cover price, generated 94% more newsstand revenue that the average issue.  

The cover featured a Polar Bear on the front and some wigged out Owl chicks on the “flip side.” See original blog post:

Since that time, Canadian Geographic has published more SIP’s:

On May 2, 2011, they published an SIP on Parks, also at $12.95. This one sold 13,925 copies, which was 3,344 copies or 32% better than their average in 2011 in units, and 114% more in newsstand revenue than the average regular issue.

On October 11, 2011, they published a second Wildlife SIP, this time featuring a Fox on the front cover and Grizzly on the back cover. Again, the cover price was $12.95. It sold 15,644 copies, or 48% better than the average regular issue in 2011, and it generated 141% more newsstand revenue.

In 2012 they have published a Wild Weather SIP, which went on sale April 30, and a Birds SIP which went on sale August 27, 2012, both at $12.95. Too early to say how well they will do, but we will report back when they final out. My guess is that neither the Weather nor the Birds will eclipse the Polar Bear or the Fox. Top predators are the celebrities of nature.

But these high quality, beautifully produced, verticals show the power of the Canadian Geographic brand, and have contributed signifcant single copy dollars to all concerned.

Click on images to enlarge

Monday, August 27, 2012
This new SIP from Sportsnet magazine has the look of a gold medal winner… ok, this is Canada, maybe silver. But a winner none the less.

The editor and publisher, Steve Maich, spoke at the PBAA Canada event last week and underscored the importance of quality editorial products. This package sure delivers on that promise. 

Here’s what Steve had to say about this issue:

“One thing that makes Canada special is that we really view the Olympics as a window on the world. Sure, we’re cheering mainly for Canadians, but we have huge interest in the accomplishments of great athletes like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis. That created an opportunity for us to celebrate an amazing Games, despite the fact we didn’t come home with a lot of gold medals. Christine Sinclair was the perfect symbol in that way. She turned in an incredibly gutsy performance that the whole country was proud of. We wanted a cover that was celebratory, and she was the natural choice to be the main image. Who cares what colour her medal is? I think our Art Director Jamie Hodgson, once again, captured exactly the spirit we were going for.”

The issue retails for $6.95, and went on sale August 20th, 2012. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012
At the recent 8th Annual PBAA Canada event, Anita Baldwinson, Manager, Retail Services, for the NewsGroup, and Ray Argyle, on behalf of the PMC, presented their findings from a research project on the importance of magazines to Canadian consumers.  Here’s part of what Anita and Ray shared with the audience:

“With so much media attention on tablets and digital versions of magazines (and books), especially in the last year, it is no wonder that even those in the industry, Retailers, Wholesalers, National Distributors and Publishers, have wondered, is print on its way out?”

“It is this question that sparked questions and conversation at the PBAA Canadian industry conference, a year ago, in 2011. Questions such as: Is magazine readership going digital? Do young people even read magazines? And why do retailers keep cutting magazine space if the category is so profitable?”

“While no one could provide truly definitive answers at the time, what was decided was a that there was a pressing need for the industry to better understand how consumers were wanting to consume magazines and what mind-share digital actually did have. So, the industry came together to sponsor the MARC–Magazines at Retail Canada–project. One year later, we now have answers, along with a package that the industry can use to talk to retailers and feel confident of the viability of print. Like radio continued to exist after the advent of television, so too will print continue to exist and even thrive.”

The MARC project campaign has several vehicles for industry use, which can be found at

The video on the site (Readers Love Magazines: A Canadian Survey near top) is well worth a look.

Industry sponsors: Benjamin News, Coast to Coast Newsstand Services, IPDA, Metro News, News West, PBAA, PMC, Rodale, Rogers Publishing, Sudbury News, TC Media, The News Group, The Monahan Agency and Time Warner Retail Services & Marketing are generally very pleased with the outcome of the study conducted by Leger Marketing and feel this multi-million dollar industry in Canada will continue to provide revenue and profits to the industry that relies on print sales.

Thursday, August 23, 2012
PBAA hosted their 8th annual Canadian newsstand conference last week at the Old Mill.  One of the keynote speakers was Glenn Morgan, President & CEO, Coast to Coast. Glenn’s presentation…The State of the Canadian Market…deconstructed the recently released MagNet data, referenced his own annual BoxScore report, and looked at a grocery store report from the U.S., produced by Symphony IRI Group, a Chicago-based Market Research firm.

Given that the top line data from both MagNet and recently released ABC Fas Fax reports was rather negative, Glenn took a deeper dive into the data.  Some of his findings may surprise you.

Top Line MagNet Data

  • U.S. titles down 9.2% in units…8.1% dollars
  • Canadian titles down 6.5% in units…5.2% dollars

Isolating Check Out vs. Main Line

Since the majority of titles are not checkout titles, but reley on mainline displays for sales, this distinction is very important.  In 2011, checkout titles were down 7.8%, while mainline titles were down just 4%…a big difference.  Weekly titles at checkout played an even bigger role in the macro results, as they were down 8.3% in North America.

Weekly vs. Non Weekly

The negative trend for weekly titles has continued into the first half of 2012, with a 12.9% decline for weekly frequency titles, but just a 4.4% decline for non-weekly…and just a minor .8% decline in revenue for non weekly, thanks to a strong performance on price.

Canada vs. U.S.

Canadian magazines continue to outperform the U.S. titles, in a variety of ways. 

  • While the Canadian population is just 10% of the North American market, Canadian titles represent 14.7% of total single copy revenue and 12.7% of unit sales.  Better sales performance, and at higher prices!
  • It was also pointed out that MagNet does not capture all French Canadian newsstands sales, which means that Canada’s total single copy sales story is even more impressive
  • Of the 25 best sellers in Canada, 8 or 32% are Canadian produced
  • Average U.S. cover price $4.58 vs. Average Canadian cover price of $5.45
  • In 2011, U.S. produced titles were down 8% on Canada’s newsstands, while Canadian produced titles were down just 2.4%

Canadian English Language Titles

Of the magazines sold on Canadian newsstands, Canadian domestically produced English language titles now account for 15.8% of the total.  This number continues to improve.  It was 15% in 2010, and 13.2% in 2009. This trend is encoraging for our domestic industry.

Hello! magazine was highlighted as the #1 Canadian producer, and #2 overall in Canada, trailing only the venerable People Weekly powerhouse….impressive.

Keeping it Real

Glenn ended his presentation by placing single copy sales in the context of other categories of products that are sold in grocery stores.  Using market research from a Chicago-based Market Research firm, Glenn pointed out that 206 of 260 categories measured (or nearly 80% of all categories measured) experienced declining sales.  His point being, that with economic conditions being less than robust, particularly in the U.S., that magazines are not the only products that are “challenged.”  For example:

  1. Auto Fluids…down 22.8%
  2. Fire Logs/Wood/Starter…down 18.3%
  3. Milk Flavoring/Coco Mixes…down 15.3%
  4. Cough Syrup…down 15.3%
  5. Frozen Juices down 14.6%
  6. Baby Formula down 10%
  7. Diapers down 9.5%
  8. Vegtables down 8.2%
  9. Frozen Dinners down 6.4%
  10. Soup down 6%
  11. Milk down 5.3%

While the challenges faced by weekly titles, and the pressure this puts on wholesalers and retailers, is real, and not to be discounted, Glenn’s point is that magazines “are not alone” in facing sales challenges in a time of economic uncertainity.  Certainly no one in the media is saying that vegatables, juice and milk are doomed.

Thursday, August 16, 2012
Maryam Sanati, editor, for Toronto Life SIPs, made a fabulous presentation at the 8th annual PBAA Canada event yesterday.  Maryam shared a bit about the history of Toronto Life SIP’s, which started with the Eating & Drinking special.  This year they will publish six (6) SIPs, and in 2013 will grow to an astounding collection of seven (7) specials a year.

Here’s what the art Director has to say about the new Stylebook SIP:

“We wanted to capture an urban edge and energy—with a rich, risky black background, an unexpected mix of colours and textures, and a Toronto model with gorgeous (un-retouched) freckles. This city is more stylish and creative than ever before and we wanted to reflect the sophistication of our style scene. We collaborated with many rising stars in fashion, among them our cover photographer, Norman Wong.”
—Una Janicijevic, Stylebook art director

The (second annual) Stylebook is scheduled to hit newsstands August 23rd.  The cover price is $8.95.

The Stylebook, is a premium newsstand-only publication.  

“Equal parts glamorous fashion magazine and shopping bible, Stylebook is the consummate guidebook for fall style in the city. The editors of Toronto Life, along with a jury of style experts, took on the daunting challenge of assembling the coveted list of the 25 most stylish Torontonians.  The issue is rounded out with a cross-city guide to the best primping and grooming providers, an exploration of Toronto’s reigning style tribes, hot up-and-coming designers and models, and how the chicest dress, live and entertain, ” according to the press release.

Maryam announced the yet-to-be-unveiled, Toronto Life Cooks, which will be a recipe focused SIP, retailing at $11.95, due out in late September, with a newsstand distribution of 40,000 copies.

Thursday, August 16, 2012
The new ABC FasFax data for the Jan-Jun 2012 period has been released.  Sixty-two (62) titles reported single copy sales in both the 6/12 and 6/11 reporting periods here in Canada.

The single copy sales numbers, while down, were modest (down 1.7%), compared to the same period a year ago. And it was certainly a better result that the previous ABC Fas Fax results from the Jul-Dec 2011 period (down 2.4%).

A few things to remember:

1.  These numbers are not necessarily indicative of pure newsstand sales, as bulk single copy sales, office copy sales, trade show singles can be included.

2.  The numbers are in part estimates, as some issues are not closed/final when circulators are required to make their rate base claims.  This can lead to conservative under-estimates, or aggressive over-estimates.

3.  Given the small pool of magazines (62 in Canada) the big players’ results can skew the overall number down if they are struggling  (more on this in a moment).

4.  Keep in mind the fact that the French language and English language magazine markets can respond differently (more on this in a moment).

In total thirty six (36) titles reported single copy sales down (58% of the total titles reporting), while twenty-six (26) reported single copy sales increasing (or 42% of the ABC class).

Uppers (English Langauge):

  1. Best Health up 69.9%
  2. More up 29.4%
  3. Canada’s History up 23.6%   
  4. Canadian Business up 17.1%
  5. Today’s Parent up14.6%
  6. Canadian Living up 8.2%
  7. LouLou up 6.2%
  8. Style at Home up 5%
  9. Toronto Life up 4%
  10. Canadian House & Home up 2.3%
  11. Readers Digest up 2%
  12. Maclean’s up 1.2%
  13. GardenMaking up .4%
  14. Chateline up .2%

Uppers (French Language):

  1. Bel Age up 482.6%
  2. Chatelaine up 30.3%
  3. Animal up 22.9%
  4. Vita up 17.6%
  5. Fleurs Plantes Jardins up 12.2%
  6. Selection Readers Digest up 7.8%
  7. Clin D’Oeil up 6.5%
  8. A Vos Pinceaux up 4.3%
  9. L’Actualite up 3.6%
  10. Moi & La Cuisine up 3.1%
  11. Cool! up 2.9%
  12. Elle Quebec up 2.2%

Flare took a big hit (down 33.4%) from an average of 18,261 to 12,170…the largest % decline in the ABC set.   Market leader Hello! was (down 18.2%) from an average of 84,649 to 69,225.  Without the benefit of a Royal Wedding, this kind of wild swing can happen from a big, big, upside in the previous year. 

To put the ABC single copy stats in context, had both Flare and Hello! simply posted comparable numbers to prior year, the outcome to the overall ABC single copy sale results would show an increase in single copy sales for the Jan-Jun 2012 period.

Of the twenty-seven (27) English language ABC titles reporting, fourteen (14) reported sales declines while thirteen (13) reported sales gains.  In total, English language magazines single copy sales were actually up (yes by a hair at .3%, but up).  This has the look of a fairly balanced market.

Of the thirty-five (35) French language ABC titles reporting, twenty-two (22) reported sales declines, with just thirteen (13) reporting single copy sales improvement.  These rather unfortunate results pulled down the overall ABC number.

For an interesting overview from the U.S. see this link at Folio:

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Fall 2012 issue of Fly Fusion is set to hit newsstands soon.

When the publisher saw this image, it was instant magic. The raw energy explodes off the page. The ripping of the fishing line captured perfectly the subject matter of the main feature story. The art director then had fun with it, by super-imposing the water droplets all over the logo. 

This cover captures the spirit of the ultimate predator (a very macho/handsome fly fisherman) vs. the ultimate prey (a glorious trout). The approach was basically “less is more”, and we worked hard to keep the sell-lines out of the way, so that the image, and the main cover line–Mastering Presentation–took centre stage.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Fall 2012 issue of GardenMaking will be available on newsstands August 27th.

While “easy care” succulents are featured on the cover, the main cover line Smart Tips for fall planting is featured to push the seasonality factor. The bold red and white star-burst button is placed in a high value location, and uses the numeral 12 to underscore the depth of the value proposition being offered. In total, seven different articles are mentioned on the cover.

Thursday, August 02, 2012
The current issue (#31) of Bloomberg Businessweek is a great example of “radical clarity”. 

Art Director Richard Turley has clearly “committed to the cover”. 

Not afraid to use big, bold, aggressive type treatments, this example very well maybe over-the-top. But for political junkies, this cover is probably irresistible. For those of you feeling a bit shy about what your magazine is selling, perhaps this cover will serve as inspiration to take some chances.

White background. Big, bold, red type. Absurd black and white head shot.  That’s all it takes to shout out…hey, this might be a fun, interesting and entertaining read.

PS Read coverage of Turley's address at MagNet here.


About Me
Scott Bullock

Scott Bullock is the the creator of Bullock has worked as circulation director for both consumer and B2B magazines including Toronto Life and FASHION.

Note to readers: some of Bullock's posts may refer to his clients.
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