Why print newsstand wasn’t working for Flare

Flare's publisher intends to up the title's print run but change up its distribution strategy to optimize reach among urban millennials.

When 2015 comes to an end readers won’t see Flare magazine on physical newsstands anymore.

But subscribers will still see 10 annual issues pop out of their mailboxes in 2016, because while Rogers is changing the magazine’s distribution strategy, it still has confidence in print.

So much so that Flare’s publisher plans to increase its average circulation and up its print run in 2016.

In an email interview with MiC, Melissa Ahlstrand, Flare‘s publisher, explains that with newsstand sales falling significantly (currently making up only 2.5% of its circulation), the move was meant to optimize the copies it does print and expand its overall access to a digital-savvy younger audience.

“This small quantity, coupled with our objective to reach millennial readers who are not regular newsstand buyers, required us to ask the question: how do we get this young, cool, smart demographic to engage with our print product? Our solution is to move away from newsstands and invest in other forms of print distribution that make more sense.”

Details around Flare‘s reworked strategy are now yet known but media buyers agree that the strategy to ditch the traditional newsstand was a wise one.

“What Flare is doing – or not doing – makes absolute sense from a target and efficiency perspective,” says Brooke Leland, VP, connection planning at Jungle Media. “This move cuts costs, recognizes that millennials aren’t buying from newsstand, leaves more room for chips and candy, and provokes fewer back injury claims from their delivery crew.”

Realistically, the newsstand hasn’t been the Canadian print magazine’s main distribution model. Most magazines get their readership largely from circulation and home delivery. And while newsstand sales for Flare may have been dropping over the years, they never commanded a significant part of the overall distribution model. Given that newsstand distribution comes at a cost, it may have been the easiest thing to drop as single-issue sales continued to decline.

The decision also makes sense given the monthly’s focus on fashion trends. “Also, the medium is the message and moving swiftly to a strong digital model works as a sort of twinset with the fast-paced nature of fashion,” adds Leland.  “Monthly in-store magazine purchases can’t keep up with seasonal trends and cultural fashion cues.”

Details around Flare‘s new strategy have not yet been announced but the publisher intends to distribute 150,000 issues to urban millennials across Canada and will be developing multi-platform brand experiences and partnerships with advertisers that will be specific to those issues. 

According to numbers from Vividata’s inaugural study, which measures magazines differently, Flare‘s 12+ unduplicated average issue audience for print and digital for the second quarter of 2015 was 980,000 with 864,000 for print and 346,000 who read, looked into or accessed a digital issue of the magazine.