Even during a down economy, magazines printed on recycled paper have increased their newsstand sales up to 114%, grown their store count, added advertising revenue, and built greater affinity with their readers. How is this possible? For dozens of publishers, going green has proved to be an easy and cost effective method for brand building and attracting new readers.
The Retail Advantage
When Tricycle magazine switched to using paper with recycled content, they knew they had to let their readers know. Using newsstand promotions offered by the nonprofit Green America Better Paper Project, Tricycle was able to showcase their commitment to environmental sustainability. These newsstand promotions have greatly helped build their retail sales.
One promotion in Books-a-Million in 2010 resulted in an increase in sales of 114%.1 Other Better Paper Project members have experienced similar sales results. In 2010, sales of Modern Dog increased by 56% and Whole Living by 45% in a Hastings Books and Music in-store promotion. Such results are significant at a time when 98% of US wholesalers/distributors reported magazine unit sales declining rapidly in recent years.
Fast Company is one of hundreds of magazines that have consistently used recycled paper. Their Consumer Marketing Director, Anne Marie O’Keefe, sees the market advantage of having an environmental “halo” associated with their magazine.
“Newsstand promotions orchestrated by the Better Paper Project give Fast Company a rare market-level opportunity to showcase its commitment to using recycled paper. It makes a clear statement that our interest in sustainability goes beyond mere lip service, and that seems to resonate with newsstand buyers” says O’Keefe.
The Advertising Advantage
Some companies make it their mission to only work with environmentally sustainable businesses. Since its founding in 1978, Aveda has been leading the personal care product industry toward a more sustainable future. In “Turning Advertising Publishers Green,” Aveda’s Director of Consumer Marketing and Advertising.
Rachael Ostrom said, “For fashion and beauty publications, one of the questions that we ask in the Request For Proposal (RFP) process is what the percentage of post-consumer recycled paper is used. This is a strong factor in our decision making processes.” Bob Legal, the Director of Advertising Sales for Ogden Publications, commented “Our audience is our claim to fame and they expect us to use recycled paper. By printing on recycled paper we maintain a good relationship with the audience that advertisers want to reach.”
Ethical Consumerism Shopping responsibly is a growing trend in the U.S. While the economic downturn has constricted consumer spending, sales of organic products, for instance, have not seen a dip in volume or value recently; in fact, U.S. organic sales totaled $28.682 billion in 2010, up 9.7 percent from 2009. Studies show sixty percent of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies and are willing to spend more on green products.
Robyn Lawrence, the Editor-at-Large of Mother Earth News, Natural Home and Herb Companion said, “Our sales team tells me that consumers at trade shows notice we use recycled paper and give us very positive feedback on that. Our readers look for that recycled symbol.” The recycled symbol and other eco-labels help consumers spend money in ways that align with their values.
In fact, over 50% of American consumers say on-pack information helps them understand how green a product is. Other examples of on-pack information are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certification and the Better Paper Eco-Label.
There are clear environmental reasons to switch to paper with recycled content: today almost one-half of the world’s original forests are gone and each second one tree is cut down for the U.S. magazine industry alone. But beyond the environmental reasons to become more sustainable, there is a strong economic case for why publishers should and can be environmental sustainability leaders.
As John Grant, author of The Green Marketing Manifesto, points out “People will buy goods and services because of the company behind them.” Integrating sustainability into your brand not only lessens your impact on the deteriorating environment but also gives your publication access to a new green market, which will ultimately result in economic growth.
Switching to environmentally responsible paper is a great way to build brand loyalty and develop sales in a tough market and keep up with the environmentally conscious consumer.