Australian Newsagency Blog

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Publishers ought to price newspapers based on the shelf life of the product

Mark Fletcher
June 21st, 2014 · 19 Comments

rushourThe shelf life of a daily newspaper is less now than at any other time in its history. Indeed, news stories are often out of date by the time the press machines start rolling.

While the price of other products with a limited shelf life, such as fresh food, is reduced as it nears expiry, newspapers hold their price until returns for pulping.

We ought to price newspapers on a sliding scale – the later in the day the cheaper they become. We could modify newsagency software to set a price based on time of day and to report sales by time direct to publishers.

While some will wait to get a few cents off the price of a newspaper, I doubt those who purchase newspapers for the full experience will care.

I’d suggest full cover price until 2pm at which time its drops to 25% off and then for the last hours of the trading day it drops to 50% off. A trial could test if the timing and the discount quantum is right.

The goals need to be zero returns plus more people purchasing newspapers.

My core  interest is in getting more print newspapers in the hands of shoppers who pay something for the privilege. A stand at the front of the newsagency, facing into the mall, offering The Age or The Herald Sun at half price at, say, 4pm could achieve just that. I’d expect getting fifty cents in the dollar is better value for the publisher and their advertisers than copies being returned unsold and having to be pulped.

Given the challenges facing newspapers including falling over the counter sales, falling subscriptions and falling advertising revenue, it is time to experiment with creative solutions. This idea of pricing that accepts a newspaper has a diminishing value with time is the type of fresh idea we need to consider. As a retail only newsagents it’s an idea I’d embrace. It is certainly more interesting to me that the forever promoted subscription deals that try and lure my customers to get their newspapers elsewhere.

I took the photo at the fruit salad counter of David Jones in Sydney, half an hour before they were to close for the night a couple of weeks ago. In this last half hour they slash the price of fruit salads to get rid of them, so they can start fresh in the morning.

Seeing the popularity of the counter at this time of the day is what started me thinking about this idea for newspapers. If I’m in Sydney close to closing time for David Jones I head down to the fruit salad bar and pick up a tub for less than half price. Delicious!


Category: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities · Newspapers

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 shauns // Jun 21, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    Not keen on the idea of discounting anything . When would it stop, do we discount womens day on a sunday because the new one come out Monday ?


  • 2 rick // Jun 21, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    Depends who pays for the discount, us or the publisher


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Jun 21, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    I see this as something that works for products where the perceived value declined rapidly in a short time. Papers and not magazines. I’d jump at the chance to trial this.


  • 4 shauns // Jun 21, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    i don’t really understand the discount idea i think i am missing something . If you buy the paper in the arvo it still has the same reading value that it had in the morning or you just wouldn’t buy it . sometimes in the arvo i will sell more papers than in the morning especially to the ones that have been at work all day and only pass through the shops on the way home .
    I do understand the idea of have almost nil returns and that idea is valid if we had a model with a no return policy where we buy the paper out right .
    Checking off your statement would be a nightmare trying to work out what papers sold when and at what commission went to what paper


  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Jun 21, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Shaun a tub of cut that day fruit salad has the same value as if bought in the morning yet DJs prices it to quit and the experience a rush as a result. I’d like to try something similar with newspapers.

    Back in 2004 magazine publishers didn’t like my idea of a magazine club card. The result was a boost in sales. I think this discount by time idea is one to trial and measure.

    I agree it would not be for everyone. For example there are different buying patterns in centres versus high street versus rural and regional.

    That the idea has not been trialled is of itself reason to think about it carefully.

    I posted about it today to open a conversation.


  • 6 shauns // Jun 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    I understand and agree with the different buying patterns ,i know our local paper i can get 3 days of strong sales out of it


  • 7 Mark Fletcher // Jun 21, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    In cap. cities the publishers already play in this space of diminished value by not topping up supplies after midday.


  • 8 Shayne // Jun 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I’m aware of one newsagency that moves papers from the front of the store to the back of the store at midday every day. Not discounting but thinking along the same lines I guess. The space at the front is then used for higher profit lines to appeal to the younger after school traffic.


  • 9 Jenny // Jun 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    I’m not for discounting papers, we actually have strong sales on weekday afternoons.
    The news is old by the time our shops open and a lot of customers but for interest articles and crosswords not just the news. We also get good sales for 2-3 days with our local paper.
    Food is perishable so it makes sense to discount or give to charity rather than throw out.


  • 10 Steve // Jun 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    If I discounted newspapers as the day went on I’d have all the tight-arses lined up at my counter at 4.55pm.


  • 11 Garry // Jun 21, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    You are right Steve.

    It might have advantage though,we could sell them a scratchie while they wait to save 20 cents on their paper.o


  • 12 Peter // Jun 21, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Good to throw ideas out there, but I can’t see who would be a winner on this one. Maybe software suppliers? 😉


  • 13 Dean // Jun 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Currently the West Australian is supplying me with “Promotional” copies of The West to hand out after 2pm weekdays to anyone that makes a $5 or more purchase. The only difference between the daily paper and the promotional copy is the latter has “Promotional Copy” printed on it and so I cannot return it for credit. This does not help lowering returns (but really doesn’t increase them either) but it does get more papers in peoples hands.


  • 14 Mark Fletcher // Jun 21, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Not sure how you figure that Peter. Supplier mandated software changes are usually done free for newsagents – this has been the case for many years.

    On the risk of ‘tight arses’ as I noted – run a trial and measure the results … or keep complaining and do nothing.

    Paper sales are crashing and there is very little being done with retailers to reverse this.


  • 15 Brendan // Jun 22, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    How would this work for subbies??


  • 16 Lance // Jun 22, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    How many papers do each of you sell after 12noon, 2pm and 4pm ?
    Approx what % of your daily sales ?
    Do ppl still buy papers on the way home from work at 6ish ?


  • 17 David @ Angle Vale Newsagency // Jun 22, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Newspaper sales had just begun to trend up, and then crashed last week as the next door stupidmarket was giving them away.

    The Advertiser rep gets upset when I don’t display their posters. The supermarket displays no posters. The Advertiser does nothing to help me build my business. I am happy to support my suppliers who work with me in a partnership.

    Ancol, Henderson Greetings, Bookpower, Aussie Imports, Toner Warehouse work with me, understanding that my growth contributes to their growth.

    The Advertiser simply gives my competitor a free pass.


  • 18 Mark Fletcher // Jun 22, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    David, if it like other deals I have seen, the circulation people at the Advertiser will not have driven this. Usually it starts with the supermarket and they change the publisher’s marketing people around ad deals.

    Lance, after 12 noon weekdays less than 5. In a shopping mall in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.


  • 19 Hamish // Jun 23, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    Has some merit Mark.
    I remember the first time I went to have a meal from a particular vendor and paid what I thought it was worth at the end, this was part of their marketing strategy. It worked.
    I wonder what the perceived value of news is and if price has anything to do with sales. I am inclined to think its more about access and how up to date information is.


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