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Publications are stepping out.

Event though they account for the lion's share of the big publications category, magazines have traditionally received little off-shelf display in supermarkets. That situation may change in the future as magazine wholesalers press forward with specially made floorstands.

A case in point is that of Drown News Agency of Westminster, Calif., a magazines/paperbacks distributor servicing some 2,000 outlets in the Greater Los Angeles area including some 500 supermarkets. The distributor is tying in with the Periodicals Institute's offering of generic floostands with a changeable header suitable for various selling themes.

Periodicals Institute, located in North Arlington, N.J., is sponsored by publishers, national distributors and magazine wholesalers. President Jack Fitzmaurice says its floorstand is "just part of the many things we're doing to give magazines the pizzazz of mass-market packaged goods."

So far, he says more than 100 wholesalers have ordered or expressed interest in the new display vehicle. More than 2,500 have been shipped since the display was introduced in October.

With a base 19 inches wide by 20 inches deep and 45 inches high, the corregated, slant-back floorstand with its header stands 5 feet 4 inches high. It holds two removable 19- by 24-inch trays with a cardboard shelf and dividers. It can adjust to one tray as well and serves as a display for magazines or paperbacks or both. It's painted black to set off the publications' colorful covers and is waxed to 6 inches from the base. Not a Merry Christmas

Drown's first experience with the floorstand was during Christmas. The display featured eight publications (four in each of the two trays) under the sign's theme line: "Christmas Bazaar... A treasury of holiday crafts. recipes, decorations and gifts."

"We jumped into this at the last minute," says Daryl Johnson, sales marketing representative. "We got into 50 stores, but unfortunately about two weeks too late to capitalize on the potential." Sales were just fair, and to make matters worse, all but five displays were discarded by the stores before the routemen could pick them up after the holidays were over.

That was a setback, but the concept remained so intriguing that Drown tried another idea. In february two floorstands with trays of computer magazines, sports magazines and tax-time publications assembled in blocks of four under a "magazine of the month" logo were available. As of this writing, placements were going well, but sales figures, although good, were incomplete.

The Christmas episode still rankles Johnson, but he says a lot was learned from it. For one thing, the importance of timing and scheduling was underlined. "We're planning ahead much further,c he says, "and we'll be coming up with a working calendar months ahead of distribution. We're convinced the program has merit."

As he sees it, the possibilities for interesting, impulse-appealing selling themes are almost limitless. He envisions, for example, groupings of publications unders such themes as "Magazines to Shape Up By," for grooming, hair care, fast meals, health and diet, physical conditioning publications; "Magazines for Summer Fun"; Easter preparations; baseball/tennis/football sports themes; automotive care and car publications; and "Keep Up With the World" for fashion and news magazines. The floorstand could also be limited to a single title.

The company has developed a metal easel-type rack that would accept cardboard trays on the lines of the PI display. It is more expensive that its cardboard counterpart, but is durability may make it a more desirable investment in the long run and it would be less likely to be discarded carelessly by the store. A wooden fixture is also a possibility.

While he's excited about the floorstand's potential for new sales, Johnson thinks the concept is still in the testing stage.

"There are expenses involved besides the fixture cost," he says. "We don't know how much distribution is possible, specially since some chains refuse floorstands as a matter of principle. There's a question about demographics--which themes are right for which stores. And finally we have to prove to the buyers that enough product is sold and profit generated to warrant the space."

One floorstand he is sure will sell has been developed jointly by wholesalers as an Olympics tie-in. (Tie initial design came from the western region office of ARA Services' Magazine & Books Div.) With Los Angeles as the focal point of the games, he feels that sales should be excellent. The unit will carry a variety of maps, schedules and sports pubications.

The header, illustrated with the figure of a hurdler and red, white and blue stripes, will read: "'84 Summer Sports Reading Center." Several thousand will be distributed in June throughout the Los Angeles area by the various magazine wholesalers and some displays will undoubtedly appear in other parts of the country.
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Title Annotation:in supermarkets
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:May 1, 1984
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