THIS is How You Work the Newsstand

bauerAs mass market publishers continue to slip, one company is feeling the newsstand love. Here’s their secret.

What does it take to succeed when the distribution model around you is lackluster at best? According to Sebastian Raatz, EVP of Bauer Media, it comes down to offering something your audience can’t get easily anywhere else.

“…if you look at the categories that have lost the most, it’s those that rely on information that you can easily get elsewhere, especially news about politics, celebrities, teen stars, and even fashion to a degree,” Raatz said in an interview with Caysey Welton of MinOnline . “These categories represent 36% of newsstand dollars, but 56% of all newsstand dollar declines between 2010 and 2015. The rest are doing better, and there are many categories that are actually up in the same time frame—again, all that despite the adverse trends I mentioned above.”

Raatz and the team at Bauer Media appear to be on to something. According to Welton, newsstand sales overall continue to slide, but as Raatz points out, the majority of the losses are in the mass market niches that are swimming in similar content on other channels. Presenting something different that cuts through the boredom is key to a successful newsstand model.

Mass market titles have been hit not just by the flood of competing digital content, but by the significant (25%) drop in retail outlets. Less places to buy means, obviously, fewer sales. Still, it’s possible to thrive in spite of these market conditions.

“It’s counterintuitive if you go by conventional wisdom, yes. But there are categories on the newsstand that do very well (under admittedly adverse circumstances) that allow you to launch titles and earn a good return,” Raatz continues.

“The easy story is ‘newsstand sales are down,’ and while it’s true, it’s an undifferentiated view that most of us industry insiders get sucked into too easily,” he explains.

“We all agree that publishing magazines profitably hasn’t exactly gotten easier—and that’s why we have to dissect the market, know what’s wrong and, more importantly, what’s right. You can still launch a winning title with the right concept in the right genre. And if you’re really good, you can even reinvent an old title for a new environment.”

As he puts it, it’s still quite possible to publish a magazine successfully, where “revenues exceed cost with a decent margin of safety.”

Rock on with your secret sauce, Bauer Media.