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A talk with a friend who owns a newsagent

I think a lot, sometimes way too much.

I think about people, life, problems, solutions, fixes, helping, and in general what I can do to make a difference.   I have this moral compass which sort of points me in things that naturally feel right, but sometimes we find ourselves in situations where decisions have to be made that make me feel compromised.  That's where the procrastination comes in.  I can't honestly do something which I know might have an adverse effect on something I stand for or believe in.

The Internet to me is a doubled edged sword, and from the amazing opportunities that it has brought about for people throughout the world, whether it's from research capabilities to business opportunities, it's really been a leveller when it comes bringing about capabilities that simply didn't exist prior to computers accessing the world wide web.

On the flip side

There is the depth of depravity, sadness, bullying, darkness and deception and power and money motivated behaviour that unsettles me.  It has done so from day one, and still continues to and sometimes the ability to justify and make sense from it all disappears for the day as I see the world basically living life through cameras, computers and media manipulation.

I was talking to a friend a little while ago,

We had lunch and discussing the world as we see it, which I'm sure is a conversation point of many and I was interested to hear his point of view.  Financially better off than me, with a business that revolved around newsagencies for the better part of 25 years.

We touched on the topic of newspapers and the apparent demise of the newspaper as we know it and that the Internet had killed them off because news was supposedly available now and we didn't want to wait until tomorrow to read yesterday's news.  I guess that's true for most, because why would we pay for something when it was available free, sooner and supposedly in more detail and kept up to date in a more dynamic way.

We talked about the carbon tax that had been brought in and the impact on sales in the newsagency and the discussion of the impact of a newsagent not selling cigarettes and how it would affect profits amongst other things.

I was quite surprised to hear the perception from an observant and experienced person in the industry with his own personal findings.

He said that sales of the newspaper had dropped significantly over the years for the daily sales and home deliveries of the major newspapers, and his observation wasn't that it was about the news that people wanted, but  more to do with the employment, car sales and properties for sale which lead to the type of information that people were wanting to read moving to online, therefore reducing the income to the newspapers, and subsequently changing how people get their information delivered.

He said that over time the newspaper sales dropped from home delivery but people purchasing the newspaper on the weekends has risen because they were re branding themselves and moving towards what people wanted to read on the weekends, more about lifestyle, life stories, experiences, travel, movies, sports, recaps of what happened throughout the week and exclusive interviews were just a few of the changes.

But the thing that amazed me was the change, when the carbon tax was introduced last year was the decline in the purchase of magazines by the older generations.  Much of the profits made in newsagencies is the sales of magazines.  Sure plenty of people get their magazines delivered, but it's proportionately a high profit, high sales area of any newsagency and I don't know about you, but recently I went into a newsagent in my local shopping centre and was simply amazed at the amount of magazines available.

It seems however, that when the carbon tax came in, the purchase of magazines declined overnight, literally overnight said my friend as he calculated that sales dropped about 30% virtually from the time of the announcement, by the Australian Labour Party, in government at the time, and I asked did they stop buying altogether, and he said no, they reduced what they were spending, wondering if they were going to be able to pay their electricity and gas bills.  So instead of buying four or five magazines a week, they were buying one, maybe two - they were really cutting down their spend. I was amazed that many people buy that many magazines in the first place.  

This trend has since been reversed, with people feeling they can pay their bills and buy their magazines, and  while they are not back to 100% of the previous year spend, it's back up to about 65-70% and growing.  Will it reach the same as before, that I can't predict because perhaps these people have moved to viewing online where you can purchase an online subscription, but who has ever really done their crosswords online??  I think that would be a hard sell.

There was also another shift in how magazines and print media is sold and that's with the reality shows and magazines crossing over.  There seems to be with every reality show, there is a matching magazine.  I guess that's no surprise.

There is normally more than one magazine for just about any topic you think of.

The clever use of third party apps in magazines seems to also help pick up extra ways of marketing to an audience.   I'm not sure if you remember the days of waiting in a doctors surgery and finding that a recipe you saw pictured, when thumbing through the magazine to read the it in detail, it had been ripped out by someone previously, so all you got was the delicious memory of something you were probably never going to cook but the point is you would like to have seen the recipe to gleam some ideas from.

Today, with the growth of smart phones and qr codes does this mean we buy more or less magazines?  Now with the app market getting involved with the print market we if we have the app installed on our smart phone then we can not only get an image of the product but also other elements of interest relating to that particular product.  

It seems to me that opportunities present themselves but we sometimes have to look for them and being aware of trends, particularly in technology today, is important even for the person who's not really savvy about how the technologies work, but the impact that may be caused by it's emergence.

I'm sure that those who owned record companies weren't expecting the CD market to emerge, and I'm pretty sure many didn't see the impact of USB's changing the CD market like it has, and now with the Internet and social media influencing people, some music is only available for download.

Anyway - some of my thoughts for the day. 

  • A talk with a friend who owns a newsagent

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