Time Names Greta Thunberg Person of the Year
MediaPost: "Time has named 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg its 2019 Person of the Year. Time's special Person of the Year double issue hits newsstands this Friday. Thunberg is the youngest person to be given that title since the franchise began in 1927. “Over the course of little more than a year, a 16-year-old from Stockholm went from a solitary protest on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement,” Time editor-in-chief-CEO Edward Felsenthal wrote in a note to readers. Time also recognized influential people in a few new categories, like business, entertainment and sports, to "reflect the full range of subjects that Time covers,” Felsenthal wrote. Disney CEO Bob Iger is Businessperson of the Year, the U.S. women’s soccer team is Athlete of the Year, singer Lizzo is Entertainer of the Year, and public servants -- specifically those that “provided the foundation for the articles of impeachment” against President Trump -- are Guardians of the Year. This year, the process of choosing “Person of the Year” started “in earnest” in September, with the entire Time team coming together to suggest potential candidates. Then, editorial projects were launched to focus on those groups, concepts and individuals. But the Person of the Year is ultimately chosen by Felsenthal. “We aim to pick a choice that best reflects not just the events of the year, but the larger historical currents of the moment,” Goldberger said. “Despite the dire urgency of her message, there is optimism at the heart of this year’s choice,” Goldberger stated in an article about Thunberg. “To a generation let down by traditional power structures, Thunberg’s selection shows you don’t need to be part of them to shape history.""
SI Launches Vertical Covering HS Athletes, College Recruiting
MediaPost: "Sports Illustrated has launched a new franchise to cover high-school athletes and collegiate recruiting, called “SI All-American.”Former CBS Sports' college-football recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. will lead the program as SI’s director of recruiting.“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics,” stated co-editor-in-chief Ryan Hunt. “Comprehensive coverage of the next wave of football and basketball stars was one of the biggest things missing at Sports Illustrated, and we’re excited to begin to thoroughly build that out with John.”“SI All-American” will feature coverage of high-school football and basketball recruiting.On Monday, the first member of the franchise’s 2019 "All-American" class was announced: Bryce Young, Sports Illustrated’s No. 1 ranked high-school quarterback in the country, from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California.Selected on an annual basis starting this year, SI's "All-American" class will feature 25 seniors. The roster will be announced in full in the coming weeks.Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated was acquired by Authentic Brands Group for $110 million from Meredith. In June, ABG licensed the media operations to Maven, an ad platform and media company.According to Maven, Sports Illustrated’spage load speed increased by 300% and its user engagement and page views per session increased after moving to Maven’s platform.Eighty new team channels that focus on college football, the NFL and the NBA were added as well, as part of a strategy to eventually cover every major sports team in North America"...
Opinion: The Year in Magazines
In PE, blogger "D. Eadward Tree" reviews the year: "For magazine publishing, 2019 has been a year full of births, deaths, mutants, zombies – and even a resurrection.The glass-half-full crowd will point to the findings of Mr. Magazine (Dr. Samir Husni) that the total number of magazine titles in the U.S. is at a record high.The half-empty folks will note the loss this year of so many well-known magazines – Family Circle, ESPN the Magazine, MONEY, National Geographic Traveler, Mad, Auto Week – the list goes on. Just last week, TEN Publishing added 19 magazines to the dead files. And then there are such titles as Glamour, Seventeen, Cooking Light, Traditional Home, and Rachael Ray Every Day that became “zombies.” That’s my term for magazine brands that ditch their subscribers and their monthly publication schedules but continue to produce occasional single-topic, newsstand-only special issues.Those high-priced zombie-branded “bookazines” are selling well, in contrast to the declining retail sales of traditional magazines. It seems that nothing can stop the zombies as they roam the country sucking up precious shelf space, draining the life from monthly titles until they, too, join the ranks of the undead. Husni attributes much of the growth in the number of magazines to advances in digital printing, which have made it feasible to publish ultra-niche magazines with print runs as low as 1,000 copies. Social media and sophisticated digital marketing have also provided new ways to develop a “tribe” of highly engaged followers. But not all of the new titles are mom-and-pop affairs. Meredith Corp., which hasn’t shied away from killing or zombifying underperforming titles, says its 2016 release of Magnolia Journal “is one of the most successful launches in magazine industry history.” Now it’s following the same template with another print spinoff of a popular HGTV show, the Property Brothers’ Reveal magazine.Most of the action in launching large-scale magazines is coming from outside the publishing industry. Netflix, Staples, Bumble, the REI co-op, Uniqlo, Vince, and Third Man Records are among the companies that decided to take a seat at the Cool Brands Table this year by publishing their own ink-on-paper magazines. The Dollar Shave Club’s irreverent, sometimes NSFW online MEL Magazine is also considering a print version... The hey-let’s-publish-a-magazine-trend is a logical outgrowth of the content marketing craze. Brands that needed to move beyond bombarding jaded consumers with inexpensive digital ads started using web articles and other digital content to engage with them more deeply. Putting a physical publication into the hands of select consumers takes that engagement to a whole other level, creating a sense of exclusivity and membership. Don’t dismiss these “mutant” magazines as glorified catalogs or puff pieces. They often use top-notch writers, photographers, and designers to produce truly engaging publications. And some of these mutant publishers rarely even mention themselves in their own magazines. So it’s been a strange year for magazines, full of dying business models (especially for advertising-dependent, mass-market behemoths), weeklies going monthly, shuttered magazine-oriented printing plants and paper machines, and iconic titles becoming zombies. But it’s also been a banner year for growth – of new titles, new entrants, and new approaches to the business. Perhaps the most 2019-ish magazine story is Coastal Living, a former 650,000-circulation Time Inc. title that Meredith zombified last year. The Coastal Living $12.99 bookazines have sold so well that Meredith is now resurrecting the title from the undead, selling $20 annual subscriptions to the quarterly.Though Coastal Living lives again, its old business model is still dead and buried. This time around, it’s aiming for circulation of only 150,000 to 200,000. And I’ll bet that $20 subscription price for four issues is much higher than what many Coastal Living subscribers used to pay for 10."
Rapinoe Criticizes SI's Sportsperson of the Year History
Soccer’s Megan Rapinoe — famous both for her purple hair and her outspoken ways — slammed Sports Illustrated for its poor track record with women athletes at a ceremony honoring her as its Sportsperson of the Year. “Am I only the fourth woman worthy of this honor in 60 years?” Rapinoe asked the sold-out crowd at the SI event at the Ziegfeld Theatre Monday night. “I don’t think so,” she added. Rapinoe, who helped the American women’s team win World Cup trophies in 2015 and 2019, went on to point out that there were few women writers and even fewer writers of color on SI’s staff. Maven, the current operator of SI's magazine and websites, took over in October after agreeing to pay SI’s new owner, Authentic Brands Group, $45M as a downpayment on a 10-year licensing deal. Still, SI must have known what they were getting into when they bestowed the Sportsperson of the Year honor on the outspoken co-captain of the US women’s national soccer team. In 2016, Rapinoe generated controversy for kneeling in support of the Black Lives Matter protest movement started in the NFL by then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This year, she feuded with President Trump and said she would not go to the White House if the team won the Cup leading up to their big win. Trump blasted Rapinoe on Twitter — and ultimately did not invite the team to the White House after the Americans bested the Netherlands 2-0 in the final.Rapinoe then blasted FIFA, soccer’s governing body, for failing to offer women athletes the same pay as men, despite the American women’s winning track record.Maven Chief Executive Jim Heckman was sanguine about the criticism, probably because most of it applied to past regimes.“Obviously, we just arrived,” said Heckman, “and she definitely didn’t have a negative tone. She was encouraging more women writers. She was highly engaged and very appreciative.""
Fortune Launching 3-Tier Member Program
Digiday: "In January 2020, Fortune will finally launch a paywall it has wanted to build for more than two years.That paywall will provide the foundation for a tiered membership program that will allow Fortune to further diversify away from advertising, sponsorship and events revenues. The first tier, priced at $49.99 annually or $5 per month, will give readers full digital access. The second tier, for $11 per month, will also include the print magazine as well as quarterly investment guides and early previews of Fortune’s list franchises. And the highest tier, at $199 per year or $22 per month, adds in access to the premium section of a new video hub filled with exclusive interviews with executives, business insights and instructional content, as well as a weekly research newsletter and a series of monthly conference calls hosted by CEO Alan Murray or reporters with specific subject matter expertise.It won’t be a hard paywall though. While there isn’t going to be a distinct split between how much content is behind the paywall versus free, the company said that all features and long-form journalism will be paywalled, as it is more expensive to produce. Additionally, stories that are popular for the site, like conference coverage, will be paywalled, but the edit staff has the ability to pick and choose articles they feel would drive readers to the paywall.Non-paying readers will still be able to access news and second-day takes, wire syndications, sponsored content and Fortune’s list of franchises. Michael Schneider, Fortune’s publisher and chief revenue officer, estimates that 60% to 70% of Fortune’s revenue comes from advertising and sponsorships, with the remaining amount coming from consumer revenue, in the form of magazine subscriptions and its conference business. A representative said that Fortune is still on track to be profitable this year, though the company wouldn’t disclose specific numbers. The company expects memberships to account for approximately 20% of its overall revenue in three years and reach up to 30% of its revenue in five years. “We don’t want to give up ad sales, but we want to diversify the revenue,” said Jonathan Rivers, Fortune’s chief technology officer. Fortune wanted to launch a paywall years ago, but its former parent, Time Inc., limited Fortune’s ability to invest in projects that wouldn’t deliver incremental revenue almost immediately, according to Schneider. Since gaining independence from Meredith Corp. at the end of 2018, Fortune CMO Michael Joseloff said Fortune’s leadership spent the better part of a year collecting information through reader surveys to see what its audience would be willing to pay for. Then, the product and edit team created variations of those new offerings and sent around a survey again to see how readers ranked the value of the prototypes. From there, they were able to decide which tier had which new content offerings, Schneider said. In quarter three, Joseloff said there are plans to roll out more community-focused membership tiers, called the professional membership, which will include exclusive, interactive experiences for members, such as community events and possibly invitations to conferences, in addition to access to the content. Fortune also had to hire to build the paywall. Rivers, who was hired in March this year to lead the paywall, has since built out a tech team of 16 full-time staff"...
Teamsters Truck Drivers Spar With Hudson News
NY Post: Teamsters truck drivers and other workers are at odds with James Cohen’s Hudson News magazine wholesale operation — and the contract squabble has gone all the way to the NJ Department of Labor. After the last Teamsters contract expired at the end of 2018, the Teamsters Local 707 and the company sat down to begin negotiating a new two-year deal covering 2019 and 2020. The workers thought they had a deal, and in August approved a new contract that had no pay hike and froze severance benefits at the 2018 level. But the company then balked at signing the new contract, preventing it from taking effect. New Jersey’s Labor Department and Cohen had not returned calls by press time."
Hagerty Partners With MotorTrend
MediaPost: Hagerty is partnering with MotorTrend Group to offer members new benefits.The deal includes distributing MotorTrend automotive entertainment programming to members of Hagerty Drivers Club, the car lover’s club offering car insurance. MotorTrend Studios will also develop a Hagerty-branded video series slated for the second quarter of 2020. The partnership is not affected by an announcement earlier this week that enthusiast publisher TEN Publishing will shutter the print editions of 19 of its 22 auto-focused titles by 2020. MotorTrend is one of three of TEN’s automotive publications that will continue to print. Since TEN Publishing and MotorTrend Group are separate companies, the Hagerty deal is not affected.With this new partnership, Hagerty customers will automatically receive a year’s subscription to the MotorTrend app.Hagerty created a 40-second video promoting the partnership. Category-specific services such as the MotorTrend app cater to car enthusiasts, and offer a deep library of enthusiast content (nearly 8,000 episodes of automotive series and specials) that Netflix and Hulu are unable to provide, according to MotorTrend Group"... [Separately, MediaPost issued this correction on an article about TEN: "MotorTrend Group is not a division of TEN Publishing, as initially reported in the Dec. 9 article 'TEN Publishing To Shutter 19 Print Magazines By 2020.' The two companies are separate. MotorTrend Group owns the brands and IP mentioned in the story; it oversees the digital operations of those brands. TEN Publishing licenses MotorTrend Group’s content and manages its print products."]
Shipping Delays Frustrating Indie Bookstores
PW: "Bad weather and heavy shipping volume appear to have snarled UPS deliveries to independent bookstores, causing widespread delays with less than two weeks until Christmas. Across the country, booksellers described mounting frustration with late deliveries this week as split and unfulfilled orders caused confusion and concern... While some booksellers pointed to Amazon as the cause of delays, it was unclear whether the company was relying on UPS or its own shipping infrastructure this holiday season. [One said UPS] "is having a bad season. Ingram’s decision to switch Chambersburg shipments to FedEx was notable. I wish more publishers would either explore, or use the threat of, switching to FedEx as leverage with UPS to improve service." She added: "Publishers are paying for not-great service. FedEx, in my opinion, has a major opportunity here."[Another said] the delays are a sign of a broader issue in retail culture. "No matter how someone wants to spin it," she said, "the cost of convenience is very, very high."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Ahold Delhaize Investing $480M to Transform Supply Chain
PG: "Ahold Delhaize USA has revealed plans to transform and expand its U.S. supply chain operations over the next three years by investing $480M. The investment will transition the retailer’s supply chain network into a fully integrated self-distribution model.The transition includes the acquisition of three warehouses from C&S Wholesale Grocers and new leases on another two facilities. Further, Ahold Delhaize USA will team up with various companies to build two fully automated frozen facilities. The initiative will furnish the necessary infrastructure to support aggressive omnichannel growth plans. During the three-year time frame, Ahold Delhaize USA and its companies will accomplish the following: Boost distribution presence with seven new and acquired warehouses, among them two fully automated frozen facilities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic; seek optimal facility locations near Ahold Delhaize USA banners and their customers, enabling local product expansion, enhanced product freshness and speed of delivery; innovate in warehouse design, including the transformation of facilities to improve automation and leverage technology advancements such as an integrated transportation management system and end-to-end forecasting and replenishment technology, designed to facilitate the omnichannel experience and multichannel growth; continue to strengthen relationships with vendors and suppliers, and through the integration, further deepen partnerships to improve service, quality, innovation and efficiencies; and grow Ahold Delhaize USA companies’ presence in local markets and bolster local community connections through the anticipated creation of hundreds of jobs in local communities, including positions in support offices"...
Walmart Tests Nuro Self-Driving Vehicles for Grocery Deliveries
SN: "In another experiment with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Walmart plans to pilot grocery delivery using Nuro autonomous vehicles in Houston.Walmart and Nuro said Tuesday that, under the test, the delivery service will become available in the coming months to Houston customers who have opted into the program. The pilot will use the unmanned Nuro R2 delivery vehicle — which only hauls products and has no onboard driver or passengers — as well as autonomous Toyota Priuses to bring Walmart online grocery orders to customers’ homes. Both vehicles are powered by Nuro’s self-driving software and hardware. “Nuro’s vision of using robotics to improve lives runs parallel with Walmart’s mission of helping customers live better. Through the Houston-based pilot, Walmart aims to develop, refine and continue learning how to offer the best end-to-end customer experience,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of digital operations for Walmart U.S., said in a blog post Tuesday.“Our unparalleled size and scale have allowed us to steer grocery delivery to the front doors of millions of families — and design a roadmap for the future of the industry,” he explained. “Along the way, we’ve been test-driving a number of different options for getting groceries from our stores to our customers’ front doors through self-driving technology. We believe this technology is a natural extension of our grocery pickup and delivery service and our goal of making every day a little easier for customers.”Mountain View, Calif.-based Nuro, a provider of robotics and AI, said its self-driving, electric vehicles will bring online grocery orders filled at select Houston Walmart stores to local customers’ homes. Plans call for the service to initially be available to customers who opt in and then to be expanded to the general public later in 2020.Nuro noted that Walmart moves products to 200 million customers across more than 11,000 stores worldwide, and its autonomous vehicles can “act as an extension of this modern supply chain""...
Kroger Expands Partnership With Walgreens
PG: "The Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance are ratcheting up their partnership by forming a group purchasing organization (GPO) aimed at delivering purchasing efficiencies, lower costs and combined resources "to help drive further innovation." The new joint venture will be called Retail Procurement Alliance. "This collaboration is an extension of the strategic collaboration announced last year to create value for customers and shareholders of both companies," said Gary Millerchip, Kroger's CFO. "Kroger and Walgreens share a commitment to finding value and efficiency improvements by increasing innovation and competition through sourcing. This concept brings together the best of two great organizations to reinvent critical components of our sourcing practices."Considering the scale of the two retailers, this new deal might lead to further speculation that these companies may eventually merge.Kroger and Walgreens initially announced an exploratory pilot in October 2018 to develop a one-stop shopping experience, which launched in December 2018 as the Kroger Express concept in 13 Walgreens stores in northern Kentucky. In August 2019, Walgreens and Kroger announced an expansion of the pilot at 35 Walgreens locations in Knoxville, Tenn., and introduced a curated assortment of Walgreens health and beauty products at 17 Kroger stores in the same area"...
Target CEO: Staffing Revamp Drove Transformation
YahooFinance: "Target is operationally a vastly different retailer today than one year, two years and, of course, five years ago.That is in part due to the work by long-time Target executive and current COO John Mulligan. The soft-spoken Mulligan has worked diligently behind the scenes to allocate Target’s big $7 billion in investments over three years to the most productive areas. Mulligan’s efforts have ranged from re-thinking how newly renovated Target stores should be laid out to scaling the company’s same-day delivery service Shipt (acquired in 2017) nationwide.“We've made the stores the center of what we're doing in digital. They've really driven the growth. We went a little bit different path than most retailers. We went down the path of the stores are going to do the fulfillment. Huge advantage for us,” Mulligan told Yahoo Finance in an interview inside a Target store near its Minneapolis headquarters.In 2019, Mulligan reworked Target’s employee staffing model in an attempt to drive more sales. Employees now have ownership of individual departments, offer more in-depth customer service and also service orders placed online.Mulligan said the shift in how Target staffs its stores has been instrumental in its impressive year." A Q&A with Mulligan follows.
Retail, Food Industries Heartened by USMCA Trade Deal
PG: "The news that the United States, Mexico and Canada have reached a trade agreement that Congress plans to ratify had the retail and food industries expressing the hope that the measure would pass quickly.Representing grocers, Andy Harig, VP, tax, trade, sustainability and policy development at FMI, responded as follows: “We are extremely encouraged by today’s announcement that congressional leaders and the Trump administration have reached agreement on several outstanding issues and will now move forward with a vote on the [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)]. USMCA improves NAFTA by modernizing it for the 21st century and securing the gains of the last 25 years for future generations. Areas like biotechnology and ecommerce – which were in their infancy when the original deal was negotiated – are addressed, as are science-based food safety standards that reflect the growth of knowledge in the field. This agreement maintains and secures the existing supply chain, resulting in continued growth in U.S. food and beverage exports. It supports U.S. jobs and enables grocers to keep feeding families and enriching the lives of American consumers.“Progress on the USMCA would not have been possible without the Trump administration and the House Democratic leaderships’ focus and collaboration to create an updated and comprehensive USMCA that works for all parties. We greatly appreciate their efforts, as well as those of Senate leadership and our partners in Canada and Mexico. FMI and the food retail and wholesale industry look forward to reviewing the finalized details of the USMCA and working with House and Senate leaders to successfully pass this bipartisan new trade deal, ideally before the end of the year""...
Grocery Dive Picks Giant Eagle's Karet as Exec of the Year
Grocery Dive: "In nearly 90 years of business, Giant Eagle has become the supermarket of choice for customers in small towns and major suburban markets alike. But CEO Laura Shapira Karet, who has been at the helm since 2011, understands all too well that remaining a leader in the decades ahead means rethinking the food retail playbook."Competition is coming from places that none of us would have imagined even a short while ago," she said during a presentation at the FMI's Midwinter Executive Conference. "We now must learn how to be software companies, digital marketers, restaurateurs — and we need to do it now." Karet has embraced an adaptable, experimental approach to retailing while also remaining focused on fundamental execution. This year, the regional grocer has ushered in new technologies like cashier-less checkout and inventory robots. It's also updating its stores to capitalize on growing demand for fresh meals and quick trips. Pricey innovations like the Simbe robots it's testing may grab headlines, but Karet says technology must be practical, focused foremost on creating a better experience for shoppers and employees. "While technology is incredibly powerful, it is not an end," she said. "It's a means to solve a problem." Leslie Sarasin, CEO of FMI, praised Karet as a shopper-focused executive who "leads with empathy." She also commended her ability to navigate the rapid pace of change in the industry. "Laura and the Giant Eagle company embrace disruption and learn from it. Laura does not shy away from experimentation, especially on strategies that lead to growth. She recognizes that the new marketplace requires a more personal and personalized shopping experience that necessitates an investment in technology and digital formats." Giant Eagle announced earlier this summer it plans to open a dedicated office in the Pittsburgh suburbs for its growing tech workforce. The location, which will open next year, will consolidate employees who currently work at headquarters and in a satellite office in San Francisco, and will help the company attract top talent to the former steel city turned technology hub. Those workers will continue to hone Giant Eagle's highly rated mobile app and craft the personalized offers that Karet says are so important to keeping grocers relevant. With its network of more than 250 convenience stores, Giant Eagle features one of the strongest fuel rewards programs in the industry, with points and loyalty discounts tying its grocery and convenience channels together. Giant Eagle is also making bold moves to ensure its stores stay relevant to shoppers. The company, like many others, is adding private label and fresh meals to its aisles while competing hard on pricing. The biggest transformation, though, is happening inside Giant Eagle's network of GetGo convenience stores. Here, the company is steadily transforming the fuel stops into miniature fresh markets, complete with produce, made-to-order drinks and in-demand grocery selections. The stores also feature a wide range of meals shoppers can order ahead online or through their mobile phone. According to Karet, GetGo locations allow Giant Eagle to access markets it wouldn't otherwise be able to, and to provide fresh food to communities that need it. "We are using our GetGo Fresh Food Convenience locations to solve food desert problems by providing healthy options in some inner-city areas that do not currently have or probably couldn't support a full-size grocery store," she said."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: