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Can Magazine Recycling Boost Retail Sales?

In-store recycling kiosk concept could represent a triple win for retailers, consumers and publishers.

Linda Ruth By Linda Ruth
04/06/2011 -10:59 AM

Imagine, says Blake Patterson of One Source Distribution, a situation where retailers, products and advertisers reward the customer for recycling, which drives sales and further advertising possibilities. Now imagine this situation bringing more customers into the retailers and buying more items while they are there. You have a situation, thereby, that ties in sustainability, sales and profit, and—something we’ve sorely needed for some time now—innovation in magazine sales.

Blake Patterson has done more than imagine this. He’s actually crafted a plan whereby all these targets are met in a single interactive kiosk, to be placed (one hopes) in retailers throughout the country. His brainchild is called REMAG (for read, recycle, redeem—and, we might add, re-imagine and re-invent). And it seems appropriate that his sponsoring company is the one that has led the way in magazine sales to the whole foods market.

Here's how it works: REMAG places recycling kiosks in participating retail stores. Customers are encouraged to bring magazines back to recycle and scan them into the kiosk. They are rewarded with coupons printed on the spot offering discounts on various products (including magazines). This in turn encourages customers to pick up a few more products—everyone wins.  

Customers, by the way, can recycle subscription copies as well as the ones they bought on the newsstand; the kiosk’s programming will allow for it. It’s incremental revenue for the retailer, savings for the customer, and greater sustainability for all. What’s not to love?

Patterson sees REMAG as a game changer, but even a game enhancer would be welcome in these sorry times. What it needs is support from publishers, retailers, national distributors, customers—you name it. And that’s been a long haul. But things are looking up for Patterson and his cause. He’s got a proof of concept from a major retail chain, and will be placing trial kiosks in stores this year. And Time Warner Retail is going to help him out as he develops the customer experience.

With the momentum going, we should all stay tuned to see if his very worthy idea will take off, bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air to magazine newsstand sales.

Linda Ruth is Principal of Publisher Single Copy Sales Services. Her book of case studies, "How to Market Your Magazine on the Newsstand," is available at BookDojo.com and at Amazon.

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