Australian Newsagency Blog

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Analysing the CEO change at Bauer Media

Mark Fletcher
June 21st, 2017 · 4 Comments

Miranda Ward offers an in-depth analysis of the sudden departure of Nick Chan from the CEO role at Bauer Media. I encourage newsagents to read it.

Nick Chan brought with him hope for Bauer from a newsagent perspective, as the company had a leader with Australian magazine experience, a leader with a good track record from his time at the help of Pacific magazines. However, Chan was at the company too short a time for there to be any benefit from his leadership for our channel.

Bauer needs to get its leadership problem sorted out. It needs to reassert itself as an Australian magazine publisher.

While magazines do not contribute traffic and revenue as they used to in our businesses, they are an important product for us – even with rules around supply and display that have not changed in twenty years and that disadvantage us. One only has to look at the Bauer contract with newsagents to see an unfair and out of date model that hurts magazine sales.

We need to move from the old-school approach as it is not relevant today.

I worry that we will see more overseas content from the Bauer network repurposed in Australian Bauer titles and that we will see more overseas titles distributed here. Either of these moves is not good for us as a country, not good for publishing and, I suspect, not good for sales. I hope that my worry is unfounded.

Australians like magazines, they want to buy magazines. More and more today we see destination magazine shoppers leave the newsagency without making a purchase. The product on offer is not satisfying for them.

Publishers need to understand the medium is not in trouble. Okay, so it is to a certain extent in some segments thanks to what we can access on our phones and other mobile devices. However, people are buying print, when they can find the product that suits them.

We need publishers to genuinely innovate, like plenty of newsagents are by transforming their businesses way beyond what has been traditional for the shingle. It is like they are too conservative, too scared to be radical is chasing a new market.

Take older Australians. These folks are magazine fans. The only launch in recent years close to targeting them is Yours, from Bauer. However, Yours is not targeting the age group I’d target. You only have to look at People’s Friend to understand the opportunity I am mentioning.

There are other opportunities, too, that remain ignored.

I am not ignorant of the costs and risks associated with a magazine launch. However, there are terrific successes here in Australia. Frankie is one good example. Publishers need to approach this with a lean startup mentality. It can be done.

Bauer and all magazine publishers in Australia need to look carefully at the Australian marketplace. They should look particularly at what people purchase in newsagencies, as our channel presents more opportunities for a bright future for Australian magazine publishers than supermarkets.

22 likes

Category: magazines

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Jun 21, 2017 at 9:08 PM

    Everything Bauer is traditional, I am amazed that a publisher as big as Bauer has not been able to produce a title that is 2017 relevant. There must be a broken culture or process in place that is preventing a reinvention. I wish Bauer would transition because it would benefit Newsagents but there is no proof of that occuring.

    0 likes

  • 2 Colin // Jun 21, 2017 at 10:46 PM

    Mark,

    Sure the medium has some importance, there is interlink with the basket, but from my perspective:

    – older buyers are not seeking new titles, they occasionally revisit old titles
    – younger buyers are social media influenced, they are not loyal buyers and move on with each fad,
    – supplies are not an issue, I top anything unwanted and early return the same week they arrive
    -display, there are no rules for me, I do as I please

    The only future is in fixing distribution. That ain’t gonna happen as any change to the model now will bring forward terminal decline.

    An expression I have got used to – “It is what it is”. So true.

    7 likes

  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Jun 22, 2017 at 6:31 AM

    Colin my comments about new title opportunities come from looking at sales data for overseas titles. I think there are some terrific opportunities there.

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  • 4 Colin // Jun 22, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    Mark, I don’t dispute you. These successful overseas titles fit into 3 categories :

    – freebies – not relevant to Aus
    – main stream – already here or not relevant
    – niche

    There is opportunity with the latter but not with the GG/IPS distribution models. What niche publisher would entrust his pride and joy with an organisation that dumps copies in the market irrespective of where demand is. A model that wishes to hide the excessive returns. A model that has no engagement with the key grouping of outlets. A model that follows the scattergun approach in the hope sales will eventuate somewhere.

    Consider one of the achievement by Mr Chan, clearly he knew the shortcoming of the distribution model.

    •Resigned the publisher from the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA), meaning the industry would no longer have access to independently verified circulation figures for Australia’s largest magazine publisher.

    The Australian distribution model is an abomination and not fir for purpose. It is killing the magazine medium. It is what it is.

    5 likes

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