Some publishers have gotten around this quandary and sell products that are — or on their way to becoming — a meaningful revenue stream. The key is making sure the products are in keeping with the publisher’s brand of journalism. We talked to three of them about their approaches.
The New York Times Store
The Times has been selling Times-branded memorabilia since 1998, but it made a big investment in its retail operation two years ago, hiring an experienced retailer Joseph Adelantar (Links of London, Land’s End) and expanding into other, non-Times-branded items like art, collectibles and high-end housewares. Last year, the Times’ “other revenue,” which includes the store and other brand extensions, brought in 5-10 per cent of total revenue of the Times, up 3 per cent primarily through store sales.
The store’s biggest sellers are still the Times-branded merchandise like its birthday book that contains copies of the newspaper’s front page from each birthday of the recipient’s life (US$179.95) and Special Day book containing newspaper articles from a given day ($99.95).
The New York Times’ “Special Day” book
But the Times also has had success with products that it sources or creates exclusively through high-end or specialty retailers, like a personalised wooden pie box ($49.95) that sold out in two weeks.
Since the store is meant more to engage with Times readers than to be a big moneymaker, the Times has to be careful to pick items that are in keeping with the brand and match the high quality that people expect of the Times journalism. “I think our readers really look to us to curate items that reflect their lifestyle, so we’re not going to be as commercial in what we do,” said Adelantar, executive director of retail. “The readers did not want us to sell things like apparel or perfume but were open to memorability and tableware.”
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