Location Is Everything For Single-Copy Sales

By: Lucia Moses

Location, location, location, the rule of thumb in real estate, also holds true for newspapers. Even as single-copy sales grow more important to the business, newspapers may be missing out on sales because many of their single-copy displays are poorly positioned in stores.

In research for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), retail consultant Paco Underhill, author of the 2000 book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, used hidden cameras to observe newspaper buying habits.

Shoppers, it turns out, often bypass newspapers in retail outlets because the papers aren’t placed where they’re most likely to be noticed, he found.

“I think most of you have done an abysmal job at your single-copy business,” Underhill said when he shared his results at NAA’s Marketing Conference in San Diego recently.

While most single-copy purchases are planned, poor placement could hurt impulse single-copy buys, which the NAA says account for 17% of weekday buyers.

Circulation directors are paying more attention to single-copy sales these days — and with good reason. They represented 19.1% of total newspaper circulation in 2000, up from 15.7% in 1998, according to NAA research. At the same time, an increasing number of all single copies are sold in retail locations.

Underhill’s findings came alongside other troubling news for circulation directors. A survey by MORI Research, Minneapolis, for NAA revealed that even as single-copy customers are demanding that the paper be more convenient to buy, most have recently had a problem when buying the paper due to a sellout or damage to copies.

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