A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

How News Ltd and Fairfax could gain incremental sales of newspapers from the Australian newsagent retail channel

Newspapers seem to be the new Coke, the product that wants to be everywhere. Whereas for over 100 years they were primarily sold in Australia in newsagencies now publishers want their product in fuel outlets, convenience stores, department stores, fast food chains, garden shops and who knows where next – the post office?

Where will this push outside the newsagent channel created by the publishers end? I don’t know.

What I suspect is that all this effort to get newspapers into other retail outlets has not generated incremental sales. It has only given consumers reasons not to go to the specialist newsagency outlet where they may have purchased other items which in turn support the economic model of newsagencies.

Rather than pushing outside the newsagent channel for incremental sales, publishers ought to consider moving back into home and into the channel they created. Make news valuable. Require newsagents to respect the product. Re-educate consumers that newspapers are about news and analysis and not about some contest entry or a free CD or whatever other non news gimmick is used to get the sale.

Publishers could engage with newsagents and create a win win by:

  • Working with newsagents and other suppliers to leverage newspaper sales from other key traffic generators to newsagencies such as lottery, magazine and greeting card sales. Prime targets here ought to be lotteries, magazines and greeting cards.
  • Building relevant and engaging promotions in co-operation with newsagents, promotions which engage consumers. I’m thinking here about promotions from that I would have expected to see from the 1940s and 1950s. Like a paper plane making promotion. The best plane made from a daily newspaper wins. Or a paper throwing contest leading to a state and even national championship. Get people interacting with the product in practical and community focused ways.
  • Working with newsagents to facilitate greater add on sales of non newspaper product from newspaper customer traffic. This co-operative effort will be rewarded with greater effort for newspapers.
  • Promoting the channel as the full service channel. Newsagents offer put away product, special orders, yesterday’s newspapers today, easy browsing and personal help.
  • Taking a holistic view of the display of newspaper product within a newsagency so it’s not a sore thumb type retail story but more of an integrated product which is relevant in several sections of the store.
  • Developing a loyalty campaign which rewards consumers for repeat newspaper purchases in a newsagency. Newsagents have technology systems which would facilitate such a campaign.
  • Unlocking sales and basket data from newsagencies to understand other opportunities.
  • Rewarding newsagents for incremental sales growth. This would be a far more meaningful measure for nominations for the National Newsagent of the Year Awards. Lottery companies issue a quarterly report ranking all outlets. Outlets push hard to get further up the list, competing with colleagues and with their own business. rewarding success makes success the model. Carrots work better than sticks.
  • Running mentor workshops by newsagents for newsagents. Once publishers see the successful newsagents from the list they could pay them to travel the country sharing sales growth ideas. Newsagents talking with newsagents – it would work a treat.
  • Chasing sales elsewhere may achieve sales in those outlets but sales in newsagencies will suffer.

    It is only in newsagencies that newspapers are considered the traffic generator and it is in this where there is value to be mined for the newsagent and the publisher.

    It wouldn’t be hard to test some of these ideas and others more skilled in this area could come up with. That’s what I would like to see – a serials of trials of strategies for achieving incremental sales in newsagencies. The worst that could happen would be flat sales.

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