Magazine Publishing News: Time Inc. Retail President Talks Newsstands

Will Time Inc. save magazine publishing on newsstands through retailer innovation?

In an interview with Folio:, Time Inc’s Retail president Drew Wintemberg spoke about the future of magazines and the newsstand. In the interview, when asked about challenges in the new year, Wintemberg said, “From my perspective, it doesn’t seem that many publishers are investing to bring the consumers back to retail. Certainly not to the degree we are [at Time Inc.].”

We’d take that as a statement that should be reversed if Time was a fledgling company, but they own some of the most prominent magazines on the newsstand, follow many of our best practices, and their signature magazine TIME has a great native online magazine, a platform that most publishers haven’t gotten into yet, but should. So while we don’t agree that publishers should be prioritizing “bringing consumers back to retail” as much as we think they should be getting their brands digitized, we know Time’s heart (and brain) is in the right place. In fact, it’s reported that Meredith and Time are talking about a merger, so this could be just the beginning.

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Wintemberg thinks candy and newsstand space is to blame for reduced newsstand sales. “At times we see ourselves as competing with one another, but our real competition is from other categories. Whether you’re talking about beverage, candy, snacks, we’re competing with other categories for space. It’s clear that print is not dead, but if we don’t demonstrate a commitment to innovation and new products, it makes it tough for the retailer to not question whether we’re really in this for the long haul.”

When asked about what they’ll be doing to innovate, though, the reply was not exactly innovative. “We’re looking at things like increasing the number of “tent pole” issues we have. For Entertainment Weekly, a tent pole issue would be something around TV. For People, it’s an issue around the Oscars. Those normally perform very well. Then, it’s considering how we continue to jump on breaking news as we have always done. With the Brad and Angelina split, for People, we already had an issue on newsstands and we went to press on a Thursday, because that was a breaking story. Or something like the Cubs winning the World Series. We’re asking ourselves how we can capitalize on breaking news both from an editorial perspective and from a speed to market perspective.”

But he comes back toward the end of the article to elaborate more on how they’re planning to innovate on the retail end of things. “One thing we’re looking at is if we can take on an in-store research product — going out to the retailers and finding out what shoppers are looking for in terms of the book and magazine set in their stores. Retailers are interested in us and in seeing the investments we’re willing to make in this category,” says Wintemberg.

He says that retainers “would love to see more publishers doing things like couponing or joint-purchase promotions.”

“We’ve done a number of those,” says Wintemberg. “They also just want to see new innovations in terms of our offerings. The Magnolia Journal, for example, has been one of the biggest successes in recent memory for Meredith, and to me it demonstrates, again, that print’s not dead. If you give the consumer what they want, they will buy it.”

We wrote recently about The Magnolia Journal as well, and how Meredith is using this niche approach with well-loved personal brands to reach millennial consumers. It seems to be working.


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