Meredith takes wraps off initiatives to boost sales

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Meredith Corp. last week announced new single-copy and subscription initiatives that the publisher expects will significantly spike circulation across its titles.

On the single-copy front, 42,000 new checkout pockets at Home Depot stores will sell home-related Meredith titles such as Better Homes & Gardens, Country Home, Renovation Style, Traditional Home and related special-interest publications. Christopher Little, president of Meredith Publishing Group, unveiled the plans at the Mid-Year Media Review conference held at New York's Essex House and sponsored by Gannett Co.

NEW DEVELOPMENT

"Previously," Mr. Little said, lingering by the foot of the stage following Meredith's conference presentation, most Home Depots "did not have magazine checkout racks. They're now installing permanent checkout fixtures."

"Because our magazines fit so well" with Home Depot's focus, he added, "our expectation is significant sales for Meredith books and magazines." Meredith has a prior relationship with the retailer, through the Home Depot-branded "1-2-3" book series.

In addition to the new Home Depot checkout positions, Meredith announced plans to erect new racks in Wal-Mart Stores garden de-partments, which will exclusively carry Meredith titles such as Better Homes & Gardens, Country Gardens and related special-interest pub-lications. These racks also will feature Ortho-branded books on gardening Meredith publishes in conjunction with Scotts Co.

MILLION UNITS

From these new racks, Mr. Little said, Meredith will be "looking for a million additional units" of magazine sales in the coming fiscal year. (The publisher's fiscal 2001 ends June 30, 2001.)

In addition, Meredith announced an increased focus on harnessing its Web sites as a means to market its 20 subscription magazines. While conceding the company was "starting this off from a small base," Stephen Lacy, president of Meredith's Interactive & Integrated Marketing Group, said online subscriptions purchased through its Web sites in 2000 tripled from 1999.

Mr. Little said this year's online sub purchases were in the "tens of thousands." "The goal for the next three years," he said, "is to sell a million subs online."

Referring to the increasingly onerous costs of attracting new subscribers, Mr. Lacy touted "significant circulation savings" through this move.

Exact plans for increasing subscription sales online are evolving, Mr. Little said, adding that the company's e-mail newsletters and online registration databases represent key ways to target potential magazine subscribers.

He said the sites themselves offer opportunities for reaching potential subscribers.

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