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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : February 12, 2013

Magazine sales plummet as mobile shoppers ignore newsstands

According to new figures, sales of consumer magazines at newsstands across the US dropped in the second half of 2012 in part, say some publishers, because of a phenomenon dubbed "mobile blinder".

by Helen Leggatt

Before the days of smartphones and texting, consumers waiting in lines at supermarkets might mull over the confectionery selection or browse through magazines on the newsstand.

Today, however, consumers are more likely to whip out their mobile device and catch up on emails, Facebook or read the latest news. Called "mobile blinder" after the vision-narrowing contraptions used on racehorses, this behavior, says the president of Hearst Magazines, David Carey, is partly responsible for the decline in newsstand sales in the U.S. which dropped 8.2% in the second half of 2012.

The "mobile blinder" effect has hit the women's, fashion, and celebrity gossip magazines the hardest. These are the titles most likely to be positioned next to supermarket check-out queues where even men used to be happy to have a quick flick through. The U.S.'s highest-selling magazine, Cosmopolitan, has seen single-copy sales plummet 18.5% in the last six months of 2012.

"We do find a number of people, if stalled for a minute, will steal a look at their email or news feed," Carey told the Financial Times. "Everyone that has products at checkouts has to battle for consumer attention."

Tags: consumer magazine, magazine industry, mobile, newsstands, print magazine, smartphone

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