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December 2, 2020

Publishing News

Meredith Names Catherine Levene President, National Media Group
MediaPost: Meredith Corp. has named Catherine Levene president of its National Media Group (NMG), which houses the company’s magazine brands. She was previously Chief Digital Officer. Levene is Meredith's first female corporate officer, according to Chairman and CEO Tom Harty. She succeeds Jon Werther, who left the company last June. Meredith's NMG brands include People, Better Homes & Gardens, Allrecipes, Southern Living and Real Simple. The company says the group reaches nearly 95% of all U.S. women, and has 36M subscribers. In her new role, Levene will oversee all NMG activities, including its magazines and digital products (led by Doug Olson) and consumer products (led by Tom Witschi) businesses. Levene joined Meredith in January 2019 as corporate chief strategy officer. "Catherine's strategic and innovative approach has been instrumental in growing our digital business," Harty stated. Under her leadership this year, digital ad revenues grew to 38% of NMG’s total advertising revenue. Total sessions for Meredith's NMG sites increased 16%, driven by strong performances from entertainment and food sites like and Meredith published 30% more videos and increased video views more than 50% across its owned-and-operated properties in 2020. The company launched the Meredith Data Studio in August. Two new brands were created: Daily Paws for pet owners and Millie, a female-focused financial brand."

Family Handyman Turns 70; TOH Sees Record Site Traffic
MediaPost: "Family Handyman is celebrating its 70th anniversary in the Winter issue, which hit newsstands last week. The homeowner-focused title from Trusted Media Brands has recently reached a younger and more diverse audience. Family Handyman experienced a 29% increase in the magazine's millennial readership in the past year. In July, female visitors to the brand’s website outnumbered male visitors, making up 55% of Family Handyman’s site traffic. In the latest issue, editors tackle a fireplace repair project, much like the magazine did in its first issue. They also refresh a 3D accent wall project from the 1950s and take on a hi-lo table project from the 1960s.Another piece looks back at Family Handyman’s most interesting vintage ads, tips, advice and projects from over the decades. Another Trusted Media Brands title says this Thanksgiving was its best week ever. From November 22-29, Taste of Home's site visits were up 12% year over year. The site had its best day ever on Thanksgiving eve, with nearly 3.5M visits, up 9% YOY. On Thanksgiving Day, Taste of Home experienced a 33% spike in traffic. "Going into the holiday, we expected a banner week knowing that many people who normally enjoy their holiday meal at mom or grandma’s house would need to 'DIY it' this Thanksgiving,” said Taste of Home Chief Content Officer Jeanne Sidner. Taste of Home's top stories included “How Long To Cook A Turkey” and “Your Step-By-Step Guide For How To Cook A Turkey,” as well as “How To Cut Down Recipes.” Taste of Home's apple-pie recipe saw visits jump by 26% this year. Publishers Daily reported yesterday that Allrecipes also had a record week this Thanksgiving.

2021 Consensus Ad Outlook Improves; GroupM Describes 'K-Shaped' Recovery
MediaPost: "Madison Avenue's consensus outlook improved significantly for this year and next with Tuesday's release of GroupM's year-end forecast. GroupM reduced its projections for U.S. ad-spending contraction in half, from its June forecast calling for a 7.6% drop to its current expectation of 3.9% decline in 2020. That brings the current agency holding-company consensus to a decline of 2.9% for 2020, although both IPG Mediabrands' Magna and Publicis Media's Zenith expected to update their official year-end outlooks on Monday. Given improving expectations for the U.S. general and advertising economies, breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines, and the transition to what is expected to be a more stable White House, expect both Magna and Zenith to upgrade their outlooks as well"... MediaPost: GroupM global president-business intelligence Brian Wieser writes that "much like the overall economy, the advertising industry is experiencing a K-shaped recovery – the pandemic has seen rapid acceleration for e-commerce and advanced digital services and cratered industries like restaurants, bars, travel, entertainment and traditional retail. The bright side, though, is that the underlying rate of decline for advertising is not quite as bad as we thought it would be in our June forecast when we predicted a 13% decline. We think the decline will be closer to 9% because of the strength in digital advertising in particular or, more specifically, the unexpected pace at which digital’s small-business-skewed customer base expanded its spending"...

Meredith Makes List of Most Responsible Companies
Release: Meredith Corp. is included [ranked #339 out of 400] in Newsweek's list of America's Most Responsible Companies for 2021, presented with the Statista statistics portal. Companies were selected based on publicly available key performance indicators derived from corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and corporate citizenship reports, as well as an independent survey asking U.S. citizens about their perceptions of company activities related to corporate social responsibility. Newsweek's list spans 14 industries.

Book Biz Supply Chain: So Far, So Good
PW: "Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit this past spring, industry members from across the book business have monitored the health and stability of the supply chain, concerned about severe disruptions to the flow of books. For the most of the year, the supply chain has performed better than expected, but there was a wary eye on how it would hold up in the fourth quarter, when the usual rush of books would be compounded by the release of a raft of titles that had been delayed from earlier in the year. In addition, industry members were worried that factors such as printing capacity issues and new lockdown orders would complicate the holiday sales season. At the start of Thanksgiving week, PW reached out to a handful of key players to gauge how they were feeling about the state of the supply chain, and most think it continues to perform well. “We haven’t had all the problems people were talking about,” said Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt. He added that B&N, which many publishers and distributors see as a key to a successful year-end sales push, has had no problems receiving books and getting them into stores... Joe Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group, said that while there has been some congestion and delays at a few Amazon distribution centers, there have been no serious problems... One of the most encouraging trends for the industry going into the holidays is the strong demand for books. According to NPD BookScan, print unit sales were up 7% for the year through the week ended November 14 over the comparable period in 2019. That week’s sales were higher than any previous week this year, and that was before Barack Obama’s A Promised Land hit stores Nov. 17 and sold about 1.7M units across all formats in its first week... Despite a hack of some of B&N’s systems in mid-fall, online sales have been good, Daunt said. Sales through physical stores, however, have suffered in different parts of the country. All but two of B&N’s stores were open the day before Thanksgiving, and he isn’t expecting more major lockdowns, but he admitted that the future is impossible to predict right now. Daunt said if more lockdowns are to come, the priority should be keeping stores that carry items such as food and medicine open. But he believes bookstores are in the next tier of stores that should be allowed to do business in person. “Bookstores are safe places,” he said, “and books give people something to do when they are isolated and help maintain mental health.” Business had been picking up at B&N before the virus began to surge in early November, and Daunt is uncertain about how strong foot traffic will be for the remainder of the year. But, he said, with stores in a number of very strong regions, he remains optimistic that the rising tide of demand will lift B&N’s boat. Independent bookstores remain the part of the publishing ecosystem that seems most vulnerable to the uncertainties of the pandemic. In September, ABA CEO Allison Hill told PW that a survey of 400 member stores found that sales were down by over 20% in the first eight months of the year for half of respondents. She noted that entering the fourth quarter, independent bookstores were on “precarious ground.” The arrival of A Promised Land did provide a huge boost, but many indies need more than a single hit to stay in business"...


Retail News

Will Dropping $35 Minimum Help Walmart+ Compete With Amazon Prime?
RetailWire: "Walmart announced that members of its Walmart+ subscription plan will no longer be required to make a $35 minimum purchase to qualify for free next-day and two-day shipping on online orders. “Customers have been clear — they want this benefit,” Walmart’s chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said in a statement. “Being able to toss an item into your cart, regardless the total, and check out right away lets them knock little things off their to do list in no time.” Subscribers, who pay $98 a year to join the program, will still have to meet a $35 minimum to qualify for free, unlimited same-day deliveries of groceries and general merchandise from the chain’s supercenters. “No other membership allows customers across the country to get everything from gingerbread cookies and eggnog to holiday decorations and toys delivered for free as soon as the same day,” said Ms. Whiteside. “Walmart+ is designed to make life easier — giving customers an option to not have to sacrifice on cost or convenience.” Walmart also announced that it is expanding its fuel discount program for Walmart+ members. The retailer added gas stations at its Sam’s Clubs across the country in addition to more than 2,000 of its namesake, Murphy USA and Murphy Express locations. Members will also be able to continue using the retailer’s Scan and Go technology in stores to checkout using their smartphones"...

CVS Quietly Builds a National Latino Grocery Chain
PG: "CVS is growing its Hispanic-focused CVS Pharmacy y mas chain, with a special emphasis on grocery.The company is opening 12 more CVS Pharmacy y más stores, this time in New York and New Jersey, the first stores of this kind in the Tri-State area.The stores are designed to provide a one-stop shop for consumers looking for food, beauty and other merchandise, with more than 1,500 grocery products from Hispanic brands such as Iberia Foods, Yaucono, Fabuloso, Tio Nacho, Pilon and Café La Llave. “Our CVS Pharmacy y más stores have been hugely beneficial to providing a more inclusive environment and value-based personalized selection for our Hispanic customers,” said Mayra Boitel, VP, chief merchant of alternative formats at CVS Health. “Customers can access familiar brands they already know and love, speak with a bilingual staff who can clearly answer any questions about their medication regimen, and easily navigate throughout the store to find what they need quickly. We understand our Hispanic customers are looking for more personalized shopping experiences and we’re eager to deliver in these markets and make them feel at home while they pick up their essentials.” Since 2015, CVS Pharmacy has opened more than 200 CVS Pharmacy y más locations in more than 90 cities across California, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Puerto Rico. This year, the company continues to expand the y más store format in New York and New Jersey, where concentrated Hispanic populations can benefit from a personalized retail environment that better meets their unique needs, the company said. Meanwhile, some traditional supermarket chains, such as Southeastern Grocers, are looking to leverage the opportunity in catering to the consumer of Hispanic-focused products, especially as the Latino population in the U.S. continues to skyrocket"...

Walmart Names Cheryl Pegus to Lead Health/Wellness
SN: "Former Walgreens chief medical officer Dr. Cheryl Pegus is joining Walmart as executive vice president of health and wellness. Plans call for Pegus, currently president of consumer health and chief medical officer at Cambia Health Solutions, to start at Walmart on Dec. 21. She will report to Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner. In the new role, Pegus will lead development of Walmart’s health care strategy and oversee health and wellness across the enterprise, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said. She takes over from Sean Slovenski, SVP and president of Walmart U.S. health and wellness, who left in August to become CEO of diagnostic testing company BioIQ"...

Chocolate Companies to Defend Human Rights Charges Before Supreme Court
Fortune: "After years facing accusations over child labor, Big Chocolate took its case on Tuesday to the U.S. Supreme Court, with two companies—Nestlé USA and Cargill—arguing that they are not liable for human rights abuses committed on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, the country that supplies much of the raw ingredient for their chocolates. At issue is a legalistic question of whether the 18th-century Alien Tort Claims Act, or Alien Tort Statute, can be used by foreigners to sue U.S. corporations for gross violations abroad, including ones that violate international law like child slavery. That debate seems abstract on the surface, but it could have major implications for American businesses, whose labyrinthine global supply chains may reach into poor countries with patchy labor conditions far away from corporate headquarters"...



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