Q&A 

Pick-up distribution: 5 minutes with… Andy Barker

Despite the cost of living crisis, supermarkets remain places of high footfall. We grab five minutes with Self Select Distribution’s Andy Barker to check out the state of play with free publication distribution in-store.

By Andy Barker

Pick-up distribution: 5 minutes with… Andy Barker
Photograph: Eduardo Soares on Unsplash.

Q: With covid rules now being relaxed, what opportunities do you see for publishers?

A: As we emerge into the ‘new normal’, the leisure and entertainment sectors are starting to see a recovery with advertisers returning to these titles and demand growing in stores. Recruitment titles are also growing as companies look to fill the void of staffing. Our supermarkets are still very busy in terms of volume as shoppers cut back on home delivery and start to return to visiting stores in person. Publishers are typically using a mix of different methods, so we try to make sure that supermarkets work well for them in terms of value for money.

Q: What trends are you seeing in the way publishers use free supermarket distribution?

A: Publishers are feeling the impact of print price increases, so are trimming overall volumes, but looking to target consumers and generate local and regional response by using key stores in the same local area to enhance brand awareness. We have noticed that publisher may trim from door-to-door and then use a store to replace distribution at less overall cost. Good value and good service are key as publishers try to counter cost increases.

Q: What practical steps can publishers take to increase 'pick-up'?

A: Consumer appeal is key, starting with a bright and attractive front cover that grabs the eye. To ensure pick-up from repeat customers, the content must have good quality reader interest. We try to guide publishers to use the stores that match their customer profile but that also have a proven pick-up of similar titles. Quality distribution over quantity still works well, especially with publishers being hit with 40% increases on print prices over the last twelve months. Every copy is expensive to produce and a potential response to advertisers.

Q: What types of publications are currently performing well with their free supermarket distribution?

A: Free local newspapers are still universally popular, especially if they are news and feature driven as older customers still like to read the local info in print. Glossy high end regional lifestyle magazines are popular as customers get the quality and content of a paid magazine, but free in our display stands. As paid for magazine space in supermarkets is trimmed back, publishers are looking at hybrid models of part paid and part free in order to keep the number of copies at a commercial level.

Q: With foreign travel starting to open up again, what are the implications for publishers?

A: Travel has taken a massive hit due to covid, but as consumer confidence grows, bookings are starting to grow significantly for European holiday advertisers. Worldwide travel companies haven’t returned in the same volumes. The trend for UK staycation is still strong with park and coach companies using our store network to fill capacity. The conflict in Ukraine has added more uncertainty to the travel sector just when things were starting to pick up. With the decline of the high street travel agents, supermarkets have become a trusted destination point to pick up a travel magazine or brochure from our range. Targeting is key to response, so we make sure each brochure campaign is displayed in stores that meet the travel company’s brief.

Q: How can publishers make better use of the available data to improve targeting and performance?

A: We try to offer publishers a selection of stores that will drive response to advertising and give a good geographical spread to enhance brand awareness and profile over their distribution area. Our historical database of publication pick-up performance by sector is a great resource when we are asked to build national or regional campaigns based on a volume of copies and a consumer brief. If advertisers get good response and copies are picked up in large volumes then we get great satisfaction as a company in delivering a successful campaign that is likely to repeat in the future. The supermarkets supply us with a wide range of data by store with profiling on shoppers by type which helps build the effectiveness of our targeting

Q: What's in the pipeline at Self Select Distribution?

A: We have considered the UK opportunities in retail store distribution and feel we currently have a great mix of store brands and geographical locations to offer publishers with our five current main retail partners. Inevitably publishers would like access to brand X or Y which we don’t currently offer, so if the opportunity arose on good commercial terms, we would consider further expansion.

We have recently expanded over into Spain with a good structure of major supermarkets and smaller points across the Costa Blanca. Demand was strong for door-to-door leaflets so we have expanded our door-drop capabilities, which has worked really well for clients. The next move is southerly expansion into the Costa del Sol to target the premium markets around Marbella and beyond with several large campaigns booked.

About us

Self Select Distribution (SSD) offers publishers of free magazines and newspapers a distribution service into the UK’s leading supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s and Co-op.

Supermarkets offer a high weekly footfall of local shoppers as the majority of consumers still visit a major store at least once per week. Every free copy is taken by conscious choice by discerning shoppers from a range of free titles which helps to deliver good quality response to advertisers. Publishers can either target by socio-economic profile, by postcode, by town or by region depending on their individual strategy.

Tel: 01204 667123

Email: andy@selfselectdistribution.co.uk

Web: www.selfselectdistribution.co.uk