Service of Trade Magazines: A Gift to Businesses

August 20th, 2015

Categories: Bargain, Credit Card, Economy, Magazines, Retail

NY Now

Earlier this week I visited a small segment of what was the International Gift Show—called NY Now these days, “tradeshow for the home, lifestyle and gift market”—highlights of which I’ve covered in past posts. I thought I’d form an impression of whether or not same sex marriage has impacted this industry’s products, color and design, but I stopped taking notes when I learned that there wasn’t a NY Now catalog to be had in the Javits Center: They’d run out–a first. OK, so everyone else studies their tablets. I miss my printed catalog, a wonderful resource.

Instead, I brought back to the office a stack of trade magazines. I’ve always had a weak spot for paper Card by egg pressgoods and Stationery Trends’ summer 2015 issue, the first one I opened, didn’t disappoint. I appreciated the hand of the cover, the stock on which it was printed, the layouts and many of the graphics of the featured cards such as one by Egg Press, “you’re my cup of tea,” photo at right, chosen to illustrate the article, “A Kinder, Gentler Navy.”

From the other issues I learned a lot about what is going on at retail, the economy and why.

Warren Shoulberg, [photo right, below], is one of the best writers, thinkers and speakers in the industry. In his opinion piece in HFN’s August 15 issue, the magazine’s editorial director covered retails’ rediscovery of outlets. After reviewing outlet history, he reported that today TJX is “outperforming virtually every other retailer in America.” [It owns TJMaxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.] He warned that the format isn’t foolproof and mentioned the now defunct Loehman’s, Filene’s Basement and Conway. [I don’t know Conway, but to be fair the first two had long runs.] 

Photo: tallyhofarm.co.uk

Photo: tallyhofarm.co.uk

Shoulberg wrote, “what drives this channel is the pursuit of the bargain, not necessarily the bargain itself.” To make his point, Macy’s shoppers, he observed, can enjoy similar deep dish discounts if they add up all available coupons and promotions.

In his commentary in Home & Textiles Today, Shoulberg, who is editorial director here as well, explained why the home textiles and furnishings Warren Shoulbergbusinesses are faltering: fewer new households. And why is that? College grads “and other 20-somethings are increasingly moving back into—or never leaving in the first place—their parents’ homes.” Shoulberg cites Pew Research Center findings that this situation is the worst “in recent memory” including the Great Recession. This reason, he wrote, has more impact on sales of these categories than housing starts or any other. He suggested that “If the kids are back home, that’s where the industry needs to be, too.”

He doesn’t have enough to do so Shoulberg’s also a contributing columnist at Gifts and Decorative Accessories where he advised that industry to become, like others, i.e. “more highly concentrated.” He continued, “But maybe, just maybe, there are economies of scale when companies get together and join forces.” Business-wise he’s right, but I long for a burgeoning 21st Century Arts & Crafts Movement, which the most exciting and creative aspects of this industry represent. Professionally and personally there are few places I enjoy visiting more than a wonderful craft fair—and the NY Gift Show—I mean NY Now.

In her LDB Interior Textiles editorial, Wanda Jankowski reports on a major shift in attitude regarding consumer spending in this country: Since 2008, the editor-in-chief wrote, “US consumers have learned to defer product gratification and accept that they can have something they want only if they figure out how to pay for it.” Good for us, not so good for retail.

In Nicole Leinbach Reyhle’s article, “What You Need to Know Now About The Upcoming EMV Changes,” in Museums & More, I learned that credit card fraud in the U.S. is around $8.6 billion/year and that experts expect it to increase to $10 billion this year. EMV, according to Google, “is a technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines which accept them.” Not good, though valuable, news.

What trade or specialty magazines—online or printed—do you follow? In making business or personal financial decisions do you take seriously the impact of the trends and developments such trade pundits share? Do you think what they write about their industries has significance well beyond them?

 

 

New York Stock Exchange, photo en.wikipedia.org

New York Stock Exchange, photo en.wikipedia.org

 

 

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6 Responses to “Service of Trade Magazines: A Gift to Businesses”

  1. rbd Said:

    I do skim industry specific printed material as well as some internet data, but mostly I rely upon odds and ends of all sorts of information from all sots of places and piece it together to arrive at conclusions. This piecing together has become increasingly important now since economic data released by the government and the big corporations is more misleading and unreliable than it has been in many decades.

    For example, today I learned from your blog that demand for housing is either stable or declining because college grads can’t get jobs, move back home and don’t start families. I’m hearing this more and more often. I’m also hearing that “old” is out and “new” is in. This means that if you have an old house, you are likely to experience even more trouble than you already have trying to sell it.

    I’m also hearing what Donald Trump has been saying. Americans may not take him seriously, but I know foreigners don’t understand that crazies here like Trump, Joe McCarthy, Father Coughlin and Huey Long eventually get shut up. Consequently, between Trump scaring off of flight capital from overseas, a bad mayor, lousy planning, overbuilding and crumbling infrastructure, the long running real estate boom in New York City is soon likely to come to a precipitous end.

    On the medical front, I learned from someone with ties to the computer security world, that as you wrote last week, medical records security is in a shambles. My source suggested that since under Obamacare you doctor is supposed to computerize your records, you should be very careful what you tell him or her, and insist that your doctors tell you what they are writing down about you.

    It is a brave new world indeed.

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    I’m the wrong person to ask, since what few such publications that I have taken time and trouble to read have bored me out of my skin!

    There’s no doubt these “zines” are vital references for those involved in particular pursuits and/or hobbies. I’m sticking to the Smithsonian, Scientific American, Audubon & etc.

    May the huge choices of reading material continue regardless of substance, and may reading, in whatever form(s) available, never go out of style!

  3. Iris Bell Said:

    I read Target Marketing online. I just sent a friend in direct response fundraising this link:
    http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/5-email-marketing-change-ups/#comments-container
    Even if people don’t have enough of a response to do an A/B test they should be trying to figure out what might be the best day and time to send.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    rbd,

    To your comment about misleading government and big business-generated data, I suspect you’re right and wish I could argue. These days people running for office, for example, seem to say any old thing and others nod, like bobbleheads, without questioning or asking for backup. It’s a perfect climate to produce one side of a story leaving out the damning part of the picture.

    Warren Shoulberg added to the job/salary situation that the 20 somethings have huge debt to pay for college and a paucity of suitable housing. He wrote, “Over the past five years home construction is cumulatively way off and that has clogged up the real estate food chain. First residence costs are up because the supply is down.” Then there’s the luxury of Baby Boomer homes. As Warren put it, “These young adults aren’t living in an attic or the basement….no ‘La Boheme” garrets here.”

    I haven’t read a solution to burgeoning credit card theft. Who knows what impact the chips will have. The theft may, eventually, spell a decline for online shopping if it continues at this rate. Medical identity theft is the scariest.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    There are some exceptional writers at trade magazines and some speak as well.

    It’s a gift. I produced a weekend of workshops for a client and the second year, invited to speak a retailer I’d heard the previous year who’d handled the most boring, dry topic so well that he mesmerized the room. He refused because he said he hated to public speak and didn’t ever want to repeat the experience. It surprised me that someone who is so good at something could hate doing it so much. Some can fascinate an audience with tales of watching paint dry. The same thing is true about some trade magazine editors and reporters.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Iris,

    You’re right: Why invent the wheel when the formula might be there for the taking in a well written, thoughtful trade magazine either on line or in print?

    Thanks also for the link to the article, “5 Email Marketing Change-Ups” by Heather Fletcher. Her advice: Don’t use the same sender; don’t sell with the Subject line; Personalize the Subject line; A/B test send-times and then be consistent: use them. [And don’t repeatedly send the same email to the same people].

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