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BEHIND THE TREND: Why you should zig with print

Written by
SJC Team

Print is one of the eight 2021 media & marketing trends defined by our SJC thought leaders. We take a deep dive with the research, stats, insights and tips to help you assess how this trend might be one to consider for your marketing strategy this year. Check out the first three articles in our Behind the Trend series: content that fuels e-commerce, media brand trust and virtual events.

After 55 years, American Airlines is ceasing publication of its in-flight magazine. As content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi pointed out in a recent episode of his Content Inc podcast, it’s not a surprising move. It’s a decision many brands have made not only in light of the pandemic but in the last few years. Digital content is easier to produce, less expensive and everyone else is doing it.But what, Pulizzi questions, if American American had zigged when everyone else was zagging? (Including its competitors, who also cancelled their magazines during the pandemic.) What if the company had doubled down on its print magazine?

“I don’t know if you’ve looked at the data on print engagement lately, but it’s still very high,” said Pulizzi. “Most magazine publishers I talk to still rave about amazing engagement and report that those who read their print publications become some of their best customers.”

Cancelling its print magazine, according to Pulizzi, was a huge missed opportunity for the airline. (Read the full article here.)

Why print in 2021?

To put ink on paper is a way to differentiate your brand; to stand out from the digital clutter. For the very reason it’s analogue, print offers advantages that create higher engagement rates. As this Marketingweek article explains: “However unsexy print media may seem to an army of youthful media planners focused on closing out the quarter, the evidence is clear. If you want to sell products and build brands, print media works. Its effectiveness can be measured over years, not just seconds.”According to research cited in the article:

  • Putting print into the campaign mix boosted ROI across online display and video by up to four times;
  • Print almost doubled the average ROI from TV expenditure and; and
  • Print increased the effectiveness of radio spend by 19 times.

Print is also a trusted source of information and it's tied to a sustainable, circular industry; of increasing importance to brands and consumers alike.

Doubling down on print

The start of the pandemic led many brands to pause their print communications. But SJC Print saw first-hand many clients return to print after experiencing a noticeable decline in their audience engagement.

“Over the last few months, we have renewed many contracts and also secured new customers and increased our volumes for the summer and fall months,” says Ray D’Antonio, EVP of Sales & Marketing for SJC Print & SJC Content. “In fact, we’re setting up to have a busy June, similar to the pre-pandemic June of 2019.”

SJC Media, Canada’s largest magazine publisher, isn’t shying away from print as it anticipates the great reopening. Continuing to build on its iconic stable of print brands including Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Today’s Parent and FASHION, SJC Media is relaunching the 94-year old Canadian Business, including a new print edition launch this fall. A newly designed Maclean’s will also hit newsstands with its August 2021 issue.

“Magazine design is intentional, which is unique to print,” says Ken Hunt, President & Publisher of SJC Media. “Each spread is thoughtfully considered to help communicate the premium, reader-friendly experience of the magazine. It’s one of the reasons why we’re investing in our brands, thrilled to usher in a new era of Canada’s best stories across print and digital.”

Our post-pandemic digital world offers great potential for print. Craving physical connection, consumers are looking for ways to interact with their world in a tangible, off-screen way.

“Opportunity awaits for brands that recognize print’s unique attributes as part of their marketing mix,” says John Gagliano, President of SJC Print.
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