The enduring strength of the Argentinian magazine sector (and the often untold downside of subscriptions!)
Gustavo Bruno is President of the Argentinian Association of Magazine Publishers and Circulation Director for Editorial Perfil S.A. After two years of pandemic accompanied by a strong recession in the country, the publishing industry has managed to overcome a difficult period. Here, in this exclusive interview for FIPP, he talks to us about shifting trends, new technologies, and a national infrastructure that’s prefect for physical distribution.
“As President of the Argentine Association of Magazine Publishers, I took the pandemic as a huge challenge,” he says. “We had to make the industry survive, to work hard with all the organisations of National Government for them to support not only the publishing industry, but also the distribution and sales system.”
“Luckily in many cases, publishers have become stronger during the pandemic, while others have reinvented themselves using new technologies and many have had a combination of the two.”
Despite being a huge country, Argentina’s strong distribution network means that print products enjoy a wide circulation – and the tentacles of magazine content reach far and wide.
“Argentina is one of the few countries of the world to have so-robust and so-extensive a distribution and sales system that any magazine can be on sale anywhere in the country in less than 24 hours,” Bruno tells us. “No easy objective, considering the size of Argentina.”
“We currently have 5000 sales kiosks in the interior of the country and 3500 in metropolitan Buenos Aires. Although the start of the pandemic saw the loss of 30% of these points of sale, the high volume of magazine sales and the simple fact that it is the kiosks that distribute publications and deliver them to each subscriber meant that the fall was not in the same proportion.”
During the most-critical part of the pandemic, the Association contributed hygiene and safety equipment to the entire distribution and sales system. Bruno says it was critical to keep magazines moving, particularly at a time when human interactions were limited.
“We were determined to play our part in maintaining the logistics and the keeping the sales points available to every reader, thus ensuring that they did not get out of the habit of reading. Let us not forget also that due to its epidemiological and health situation, Argentina restricted the movements of people in public spaces for practically all of 2020 and part of 2021. This created an opportunity for some publishers to launch current affairs titles.”
“As director of Editorial Perfil, I understood that lockdown and the public’s saturation with digital information would open up space for new publications. Accordingly in 2021, we launched three weekly magazines that added circulation to the two weekly titles we already had. We also worked on “one-shot” niche products that helped us to strongly increase our sales and circulation income.”
And what of subscriptions? This shift towards reader revenue models – as well as how to sustain them – has been a key topic for the industry since the onset of the pandemic. So how has Gustavo found this shift in the country and what can we expect going forward?
“Subscriptions had their downside… the subscription ends up costing them nothing due to the savings made.”
“Subscriptions had their downside: taking a subscription in Argentina brings access to a benefits club that offers subscribers access to a huge range of consumer savings, with the effect that the subscription ends up costing them nothing due to the savings made. The great challenge for 2022 will be to recover and increase that number of subscribers and doing so through marketing actions of every possible type.”
You can visit the Editorial Perfil S.A. website directly here.