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Interesting piece in Advertising Age about the Reader’s Digest bankruptcy filing, which became official yesterday.

For one thing, the emphasis continues to be on the company’s balance sheet, which was judged to be untenable, and that Chapter 11 protection allows the company to resolve.

But there are two interesting comments from CEO Mary Berner about the approach the company will be taking in the future:

• “We are channel-agnostic, and we have organized the company that way. We look at Reader's Digest, not Reader's Digest the magazine, including digital, single-issue, single topic magazines -- anything that a customer will want in any platform. Unless media companies get organized that way, you're doomed to fail."

• "The idea of a general-interest magazine thriving into the future at the circulation levels we're seeing now is simply absurd, because customers want information and entertainment and service from different platforms and channels.”
KC's View:
These comments are interesting because they can serve as a metaphor for the retailing business, where, it seems to me, you have to:

1) Be highly focused on precisely who your customer is and what your customer wants.

2) Once you know these two things, you have to be channel agnostic, focused on providing it when the customer wants it, where the customer wants it, how the customer wants it, at a price the customer believes is appropriate.

I still find the Reader’s Digest insistence that it is doing better than most magazines to be interesting, since it is in Chapter 11 and a lot of the others are not. (Maybe the others ought to be more worried…)