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February 23, 2021

Publishing News

Hearst to Rename, Reinvent O, the Oprah Magazine
WWD: As O, The Oprah Magazine transitions from a monthly to a quarterly with a renewed focus on digital, its new leadership team has been revealed. Alison Overholt has been named general manager, a newly created role, and will oversee content, brand management, membership strategy, e-commerce and audience development for what publisher Hearst describes as a “multiplatform lifestyle brand,” while Arianna Davis has been promoted to senior director of editorial and strategy, also a new position. Overholt joins from ESPN, where she was most recently SVP of multiplatform storytelling and journalism, and Davis, who will report to Overholt, was previously digital director of O editor-at-large Gayle King, creative director Adam Glassman and books editor Leigh Haber will remain with the brand... The shrinking of the print publication resulted in 59 staff being laid off... More recently, O’s longtime editor in chief, Lucy Kaylin, was named VP of print content for Hearst Magazines. Hearst, which runs O in partnership with Winfrey, said the next iteration of the brand will include a new name, reimagined website and a membership program offering unrestricted access to all-new digital content, a searchable digital archive of past issues of O, a weekly newsletter and a print publication that will debut in late March. Until now, O has not had a paywall, but memberships have become a key part of Hearst’s business strategy. Similar programs have also been recently unveiled at Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health and Bicycling, while Runner’s World has had one since 2019. Winfrey began her partnership with Hearst Magazines to produce the title in 2000. It claims to have a print audience of 10M and 7.8M unique visitors to The latter has increased by 608% over the past year.
WWD (paywall)

Outside Magazine Sold, New Owner Plans Expansion
Santa Fe New Mexican: "Lawrence J. Burke is letting go of Outside magazine and its parent company, Santa Fe-based Outside Integrated Media, in a seismic shift of the outdoors journalism business. Boulder, Colo.-based Pocket Outdoor Media announced Monday it acquired Outside Integrated Media for an undisclosed amount in a sale that closed Friday, after months of discussions between Burke and Pocket CEO Robin Thurston. Burke had owned Outside since 1978, almost the entire life of the publication. “The timing was right for a number of reasons,” Burke, 78, wrote in an email to The New Mexican. “We have been fortunate to stay independent and profitable for all of these years and that speaks volumes for the talented team that built Outside into an iconic brand. Our industry has weathered all kinds of challenges over four decades, including recessions, the digital explosion and now the pandemic.” Pocket Outdoor Media already owns a slew of outdoor publications, but Outside will be its magazine with the largest circulation: a print audience of 675,000 and an estimated readership of 3.75 million. Burke reduced the frequency of Outside‘s print publication from 11 issues per year to eight at the end of 2018. But the company had in recent years expanded into television, podcasts, international editions, a travel service and an “enormous digital presence.” Thurston immediately renamed his company Outside. “The incredible reputation and relevance of the Outside brands across multiple lifestyle categories made our decision to change our company’s name a logical choice,” Thurston said. Outside was created in 1977 by Jann Wenner, who also founded Rolling Stone magazine. Burke had previously created Mariah, another outdoors magazine, and briefly went with the Mariah/Outside title before dropping the Mariah name in January/February 1979. The Mariah Media Network LLC corporate name remained in place until January 2019, when Burke adopted the Outside Integrated Media moniker. The name change reflected the company’s offerings beyond the flagship magazine, including Outside Go, Outside Media Productions, Outside Studios and Outside TV. All were included in the sale to Pocket Outdoor Media, which on Friday separately acquired Peloton Magazine, Gaia GPS and athleteReg. “Today’s content and experience delivery platforms fail to deliver your typical active enthusiast with the type of information they need, in one single location,” Thurston said in an email to The New Mexican. “By bringing a myriad of outdoor enthusiast companies together under one brand, POM, now Outside, is connecting the dots of the entire outdoor ecosystem.” Thurston regards Outside as the jewel to what is becoming a sprawling outdoors periodicals collection. Pocket Outdoor Media acquired Paleo Magazine in November; Big Stone Publishing and its Rock & Ice, Trail Runner, and Gym Climber magazines in October; and Active Interest Media, owner of Yoga Journal, SKI, Climbing and other titles, in June. By then Pocket already had in its stable VeloNews, Women’s Running, Triathlete, PodiumRunner, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, VeloPress, VeloSwap and Roll Massif, an event production company. Thurston also co-founded and built the fitness track platform MapMyFitness, which was acquired by Under Armour. Outside Integrated Media has 60 employees at its Santa Fe headquarters as well as other offices in Boulder, Denver and New York City. “We are thrilled to be retaining all of the employees at each of the acquired companies and welcoming them into a company where every individual is granted equity and is appreciated for their unique talents and authentic selves,” Thurston said. Burke appreciated his magazine becoming the centerpiece of a “young growing company … [with] a big vision.” “Outside has had many offers over the years, but with Pocket Outdoor Media I knew the fit was right,” Burke said. “I know I am passing the torch to the right company. Their leaders, under the stewardship of Robin Thurston, are ‘outside’ people, and that was extremely important to me.” Outside was founded and operated in Chicago until Burke moved its headquarters to Santa Fe in 1995, where he owns the 220-acre Mariah Ranch. “This is a transformational day for our company and our customers,” Thurston said. “Everything we do is driven by a belief that a hike, run, ride or yoga practice can change your life, and these new brands will help us fulfill our mission to build the world’s best consumer experience across a wide range of activities"... “Now at age 78, I will finish that memoir I have been writing for the last five years and proudly watch the next chapter of Outside,” Burke said.

Vogue Names Global Creative Director
MediaPost: "The Vogue brand could be getting a new look with the appointment of Juan Costa Paz as global creative director, effective immediately. The publication announced on Monday that Costa Paz will oversee creative direction for Vogue in the U.S. and U.K., and guide the brand’s approach to content in all formats. “Juan's approach to storytelling across platforms, his optimism and humor and his strong belief in collaboration make him a natural fit for this role,” states Anna Wintour, global editorial director of Vogue-Chief Content Officer of Conde Nast. Costa Paz replaces Raúl Martinez, Wintour’s “longtime right hand,” who left the company in December, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Costa Paz and Nordine Benotmane founded Convoy, an interdisciplinary creative agency, in 2013. They have worked on content for clients such as Nike, Miu Miu, Gucci, Off-White, Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Farfetch and Google Prior to that, Costa Paz ran Costa Films, developing and acquiring film projects for distribution. Born in Buenos Aires, Costa Paz has worked out of Paris for the past decade... Edward Enninful, European editorial director of Vogue, noted Costa Paz’s “unique creative vision and design innovation will undoubtedly maximize our unrivaled content, engage our growing audiences and excite our industry partners.""

Congressman Vows to Rein in Amazon, Other Monopolies
PW: "Yesterday, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance hosted a seminar on the topic of "Reining in Monopoly Power: Small Businesses and the Push to Strengthen Antitrust Laws"... The keynote talk was delivered by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, who explained that the country's Democratic legislature was ready to act to defend small and local business against predatory companies. "We know that small and local businesses are going to be key to our economic recovery after the pandemic," he said. Cicilline noted that for a long time, companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook were given a free pass and Congress didn't want to be seen obstructing the growth of entrepreneurial American companies. But times have changed, and Cicilline said, "we must level the playing field"... Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan., appeared on-screen and asked Cicilline about the possibility of breaking up Amazon. Cicilline's reply was pragmatic: "Breaking up Amazon may just result in 10 companies that behave just as a badly, but it will improve competitiveness." Cicilline advocated passing a Glass-Steagall Act for the retail marketplace. "How Amazon is working creates a tremendous amount of unfairness," he said. "It fosters anticompetitive behavior, favors self-preferencing for their own products. I think you either need to be a seller of goods and services or you can control the marketplace — you cannot do both." Cicilline continued, "Right now it is impossible for small stores to compete with Amazon and we have a responsibility to fix it. They do what they want and engage in a set of behaviors that is disturbing. We want the marketplace to work, so you can make space for other companies to work. We want all great companies to survive and flourish""...


Retail News

Walgreens Expands Same-Day Delivery with Instacart
Grocery Dive: "Walgreens has linked up with Instacart to expand its same-day delivery service at nearly 8,000 stores nationwide, the companies announced Tuesday. Stores in Illinois will offer the service Tuesday, with stores in other states joining over the coming weeks. Shoppers will be able to order over-the-counter medications, health and wellness items, grocery, personal care and beauty products for delivery in as little as an hour. The move continues Instacart’s expansion beyond grocery as it reportedly approaches an initial public offering. For Walgreens, the tie-up is one more step in a digital transformation that has included investments in its app, media network, loyalty program and online fulfillment"...

Dollar General Preps for CEO Successor
Reuters: "Dollar General Corp, one of the few U.S. retailers thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, is taking steps to find a potential successor to Chief Executive Todd Vasos, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. While no decision has been made about Vasos stepping down, Dollar General has started conversations with headhunting firms and is considering candidates, the sources said. Dollar General has been looking within its ranks and will assess the performance of its top executives against those at rival companies, the sources said. Dollar General Chief Operating Officer Jeff Owen is under consideration, one of the sources added... A Dollar General spokesman said Vasos had not communicated any plans to the company regarding a potential departure after his contract ends in June, noting it was “merely good governance” to plan for a transition. Vasos’ contract renews automatically on an annual basis in June unless terminated or renegotiated"...

After COVID Pullback, Factories Still Struggling to Meet Consumer Demand
WSJ: "After carrying out an orderly retreat from assembly lines as the pandemic arrived in the U.S., many manufacturers pulled out the playbook they followed in past recessions, cutting costs and preserving cash. That left them unprepared for the sharp rebound in consumer demand that began just weeks later and never let up. Without restaurants to visit and trips to take, Americans bought out stocks of cars, appliances, furniture and power tools. Manufacturers have been trying to catch up ever since. Nearly a year since initial coronavirus lockdowns in the U.S., barbells, kitchen mixers, mattresses and webcams are still hard to find. A global shortage of semiconductors has forced many car makers to cut production in recent weeks. “Everyone was caught flat-footed,” said Jack Springer, chief executive officer of Malibu Boats Inc"...
Wall St Journal (paywall)

Walmart Starts 'Bagless' Pilot
Grocery Dive: "In an effort to cut back on the use of disposable plastic bags, Walmart has started a “bagless” pilot in Vermont, according to a blog post on Monday from the retailer. The pilot started Feb. 15, and Walmart stores in the state are now asking customers to bring their own reusable bags or containers, according to several local media reports. The outcome of the pilot will help guide the company’s future bagless efforts, wrote Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. The Mexican and Central American Walmart division is also going bagless, and more than 72% of the retailer’s stores in Mexico have already stopped providing plastic bags, Ewing wrote. The bagless efforts come at a time when Walmart and other retailers are continuing to ramp up their sustainability initiatives.

Meijer Aims to Give 17K COVID Shots In Indiana This Week
SN: "This week, Meijer plans to conduct a round of more than 60 COVID-19 vaccine clinics at stores across Indiana. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer said Monday that the clinics will administer up to 17,000 doses of coronavirus shots by the end of the week. In line with state guidelines, the free vaccinations will be provided to residents ages 65 years and older who have enrolled through the company’s online COVID-19 vaccine registration website. Due to high demand for immunizations, the clinic locations aren’t being released. Meijer said registered customers will be contacted directly with an appointment time and site once an appointment window becomes available. Meijer is one of a host of partners in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination program launched earlier this month by the Biden administration. “We are very proud of the role our stores and pharmacies continue to play in this massive effort to vaccinate people against COVID-19,” Meijer President/CEO Rick Keyes said in a statement. “As a pharmacy partner to both the state of Indiana and the federal government, we have been able to receive vaccines and quickly administer doses to thousands of people in our communities, usually within 72 hours.” Meijer noted that its participation in the federal program — through which it receives COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — enables the company to undertake an aggressive vaccine schedule in Indiana. Plans call for Meijer to hold 64 vaccine clinics at stores in Indiana, including several large-scale clinics in which Meijer pharmacy teams will vaccinate up to 1,200 people in a single day"...

Americans Are on the Move
CNBC: "Nearly 20% of people in the country are working from home full time as of December and 28% of Americans have considered relocating during the pandemic, NPD said. In addition, 20% more consumers are planning to move this year compared with the prior year. As people get more comfortable with the ability to work from anywhere, they are realizing that they don’t have to be pinned down to a certain location near an office in order to provide for themselves or their families. This gives them the ability to live in an area with a lower cost of living or that is closer to family, NPD said"...

Retail Renaissance: Brands Share Outlook For 2021
MediaPost: "Email marketing is the most important tool being used by retailers to improve online conversion rates, according to The Retailer Speaks: 2021 Performance and Conversion Retail Survey results, a study by Digital Commerce 360.Of the retailers polled, 51% cite email, while 48% specify branding and 48% list social media. Another 36% mention free shipping and 24% cite free return shipping. This is happening as 70% report revenue being up overall in 2020. For 53% it was up 25% or more. Traffic was up or 85%, website revenue for 76%, conversion rates for 75%, profitability for 67%, marketplace revenue of 65% and AOV for 50%.At the same time, retailers report these top ecommerce accomplishments in 2020: topline growth/increased revenues, 61%; online marketing growth, 52%; more efficient marketing spend, 48%; significant customer acquisition, 42%; greater profitability, 35%; optimized customer experience, 35%; improved site performance, 31%; better customer service, 30%; mobile sales growth/penetration, 28%; improved customer retention, 26%; faster fulfillment, 24%; heightened customer satisfaction, 22%; improved warehouse operations, 20%; omnichannel offerings (BOPUS, curbside), 18%.“Both positives and negatives round out the top five with promotions like free shipping still being important to retailers,” the study notes. What had the biggest impact on 2020 online holiday sales performance? The respondents' list: overall ecommerce growth, 62%; shifts in consumer spending as a result of the pandemic, 56%;online marketing growth, 37%;promotional strategy, including free shipping, 37%; fulfillment challenges and related costs, 33%; upgraded experience including performance, 27%; issues with supply chain, 26%; expanded assortment, 26%; customer service improvements, 25%; new marketing initiatives, 24%; new business models, 22%; technology investments, 22%; faster delivery, 19%; omnichannel initiatives (BOPUS, curbside pickup), 16%;alternative payment options (PayPal, Amazon Pay/Affirm, etc.), 16%; elevated mobile experience, 14%; platform change, 10%. What’s next? Retailers plan to increase their investments in the following areas in 2021: digital marketing, 78%; customer experience, 65%; technology and systems, 62%; personalization, 59%; customer service, 58%; ecommerce platform, 53%; web design, 53%; performance marketing, 51%; mobile commerce, 49%; supply chain, 48%; marketplace initiatives, 47%; inhouse (operations, automations, etc.), 43%; logistics, 41%; artificial intelligence, 35%; omnichannel (BOPUS, curbside), 26%; virtual reality, 14%. Digital Commerce 360 surveyed 103 retail marketers earlier this year."


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