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24 . 09 . 20

How branded content is taking on the British newsstand

Words by: Print Power
When is a publisher not a publisher? When it’s a brand that has managed to harness the power of print to build a successful new newsstand title. As traditional consumer magazines suffer from decreased readership, branded content – once considered the poor relation – is launching new titles, adding value to its brands and scooping up advertising revenue.

The best case study to illustrate this can be found with Superdrug and their content agency, The River Group Content. With a legacy of 19 years of publishing their free in-store title, DARE, the power of print was clear to both sides – but could it work even harder? River thought so…

Superdrug wanted to appeal to customers outside of their stores, and get the message out about the effectiveness of their brand and exclusive products.

The solution was to take the successful in-store proposition even further – to the British newsstand, to new and wider audiences with similar interests, who would be the right demographic to engage with this newsstand brand. They created a sub-brand of the popular DARE, the DARE Specials, featuring a glossy cover and 100 pages of beauty, health and wellness. The icing on the cake was the addition of Superdrug samples – giving both the incentive to buy the magazine and to try, love and go on to purchase the products readers couldn’t buy anywhere else.

Account Director Stephanie King further explains this success:

There were three main objectives when extending the DARE brand from in store and free to newsstand and paid for:

  1. Brand awareness and encouraging new footfall – attracting people not currently Superdrug shoppers – from outside to inside.
  2. Sampling and showcasing ­– the free beauty gifts and vouchers with the magazine encouraged customers to try, and subsequently buy, own-brand and exclusive products they couldn’t get anywhere else.
  3. Revenue – from both cover price and advertising.
3. DARE_AS2019.jpg

The DARE Specials are the perfect balance of content, branded proposition and giveaway ‘try before you buy’ samples – from Superdrug own brand and exclusives, and their supplier ranges.

The first DARE Special launched in 2018. The DARE Summer Special was an instant success, with a sell-through rate of over 85% on the 75k run (distributor benchmarks generally sit at around 34% to 45% dependent on sector).

The bagged copies contained the magazine and up to 10 mini and full-size product samples, including make-up palettes, mouthwashes, deodorants, foaming body wash and much more.

It proved that a brand could successfully break into the consumer newsstand and succeed.

With regard to the DARE Special sampling for both suppliers and Superdrug, there are several facets…

The average value of samples contained within the bags per issue is around £1.1million.

Bag values can be up to £26, and usually sit between £15 and £20, at an RRP of £3 to £3.50 for exclusive bags.

The samples are a great way for suppliers and Superdrug to launch NPD to new and varied audiences. Since the 2018 launch, we have had many suppliers repeat sampling with us – including Colgate and Makeup Revolution, alongside ad campaigns.

So, how do suppliers who sample within the DARE Specials feel they perform for their business?  

Dan Silvester of FDD international, which works with Ardell eyelashes, sampled with us in DARE Fit & Healthy magazine 2019, says:

‘We sampled 75,000 Ardell eyelashes worth £411,750 in DARE Fit & Healthy 2019, alongside an ad campaign. During the live period, we tracked a steady increase in brand awareness and a positive uplift in sales across the Wispies and wider Ardell range.

We really feel the proposition works for us from a supplier point of view – and this is a great vehicle to get our product in the hands of wider audiences
Dan Silvester
FDD international

Across the newsstand, the DARE Specials are one of the best-selling titles our distributor carries.

‘The DARE Special average issue sales make it the best launch of the year in its category, and it is one of the best-selling titles Seymour distributes’ – Seymour

Since the launch in 2018, we have proceeded to create five more issues – and currently produce a DARE Summer Special, an Autumn Special and a new year Fit & Healthy Special each year – all of which have an average sell-through of around 65+% – well above the industry average for our sector of around 42%.

We also produce ‘exclusive’ bagged versions for WHSmith Travel and more recently Tesco, with other retailers keen to come on board with this proposition and carry ‘exclusives’, too.

With regards to plans for the future – the formula works, so The River Group will be continuing to produce the tri-annual specials, with the late Summer Special out across newsstands now. And our next issue, for the new year, DARE Fit & Healthy – centring around health, wellbeing, fitness and wellness – is out on 6th  January 2021.

Long may the success of branded content across the newsstand continue!