'Supermarket News' feeds growth with weekly frequency

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Dan Bagan, the publisher of Supermarket News , said his industry is essentially flat-or up slightly at best. So why has his publication generated double-digit revenue gains for the past two years?

For Bagan the key lies in the magazine's weekly frequency-in a field largely populated by monthlies-and the connection that frequency establishes with the readership of Supermarket News . The weekly frequency demands a focus on news. For Bagan, that combination creates reader loyalty that is hard for a monthly publication to equal.

The word he uses is "continuity." He believes the consistent contact with the reader makes the magazine habit-forming. Supermarket News has a 100% paid circulation of 36,346. That kind of audience, in turn, is good for advertisers, which he, of course, advises to join in on the continuity.

"We made a conscious decision up to this point to use some of the ancillary things we do as merchandising to drive continuity in the publication," he said. "Every time we go to an advertiser, we try to deliver a rationale of why it makes sense to do business with us. We don't just come in with a program and say, `This is how much it costs.' "

That approach can be seen in the magazine's recent launch of a quarterly, polybagged supplement that covers the growing natural and organic market for supermarkets. Called SN Whole Health , the supplement made its second appearance in February. "It's been largely noncannibalized revenues," Bagan said. "It's pretty much been new revenue."

Bagan said he likes his magazine's position. He especially likes the barriers to entry that a weekly publication poses to potential competitors. "The cost of entry to be a weekly or daily newspaper is huge," he said. "We have approximately 20-something editors to go out and report. Another business-to-business publisher can't do that lightly. It's a big cost."

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