Canadian Magazine Industry News
5 December 2012,     WINNIPEG
ANNA mag moves into Toronto with nontraditional distribution
ANNA Magazine founder and creative director Mari Loewen attributes the cooking publication's recent circulation expansion to old-fashioned "knocking on doors."

The quarterly, based in Winnipeg and started in 2006, held a Toronto launch last week as the latest step in its expansion after securing footholds in Western Canada. The move into Toronto is part of its continent-wide growth strategy of partnering with local businesses for distribution to supplement its strong subscription base.

According to company info, 85% of ANNA's circulation is through paid subscriptions while newsstand sales account for the other 15%. Single copies sell for $10.95 and yearly subscriptions go for $39.95.

Issue 25 of ANNA Magazine
Issue 25 of ANNA Magazine

Instead of chasing a national advertiser to help extend its reach, Loewen set out to create regional relationships with like-minded speciality food stores that will sell the mag in-store. In Toronto, ANNA is now sold at Pusateri's Fine Foods and Nature's Emporium.

Loewen said this works well because a shared target market means catching the right eyeballs, and getting the stores onboard as advertisers is an easy sell.

Another benefit of dealing direct is that when stores sell out, business owners can contact ANNA to replenish stock. (Loewen said Pusateri's anticipates moving 300 a month after selling out the first week.) Since ANNA's issues are undated and packaged like collector's cookbooks, it's not unusual to see four different issues on stand at the same time.

Although the traditional newsstand and bookstore distribution model handled by Disticor works in Winnipeg thanks to hometown awareness, Loewen said it didn't make sense for the expansion because copies are removed from racks and shredded if not sold within a set period.

"That's why magazines fall apart," she said. "We've tried to find relationships where we can have payment immediately. That's the only way that this works."

With ANNA's dateless model, all 25 issues are sellable at any time of year and can be repackaged together for special offers, like the 2012 holiday four-issue "starter pack" that comes with an apron and preserves.

Spreading regionally currently means than an issue bought in Toronto, for example, carries ads for Winnipeg businesses and vice versa. But Loewen said ANNA will move from single editions to adopt regional split runs soon. "I'm hoping that by spring, we'll be running three different runs in Calgary, Manitoba and Toronto," she said.

ANNA's ad-to-editorial ratio is 30:70 and Loewen hopes to keep it there. Circ was 400 for the inaugural issue in 2006, and Loewen's goal is 80,000 by spring.
— Jef Catapang
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