With only weeks left until his retirement, Brian Segal, president and CEO of Rogers Publishing, was on hand at the PBAA Canada
conference in Toronto to offer his insight about retail growth of magazines.
While the day-long series of talks from industry professionals at the Pantages Hotel focused on how to boost sagging newsstand sales, Segal made a bold statement near the beginning of his address to retailers and distributors in the audience: "I don't see us having a retail growth problem ... because I believe smart people will figure out what their customer wants."
That statement came after Segal sharing that Rogers Publishing has grown revenues 62 per cent in the last four years despite a stormy economic climate. "Rogers decided five years ago to focus on the reader ... if we as a company offer good content, they'll buy it," said Segal.
That strategy includes "capitalizing on news events" such as the recent Royal Wedding in Hello! Canada
, along with "honing distribution and packaging content in new and effective ways."
He said part of the solution is also for retailers to simply fill their racks with magazines and refill them when inventory is low. "It's hard to sell something you don't put in front of the customer," he said. And then he pointed to the role of publishers, "who don't have the right to expect sales of stuff people don't want."
Segal said "the right displays" will drive sales, but "even a wrong display is better than no display." SIPs should be front and centre in retail displays, while clutter is curbing success of some titles, he said. "Not all magazines are paying their fair share. We need to eliminate titles that don't pay a fee to support the channel."
Faced with a question about how to engage young readers, Segal offered, "The good news is they become older readers ... as our population ages and becomes more educated, reading will continue to grow."
He followed that by stating, "Media habits change over time and are not set in stone."
Ken Whyte, vice president of Rogers Consumer Publishing, has been chosen to fill Segal's role