Bottom-Line Marketing Blog

Bottom-line Marketing

South China Morning Post curates content into profitable cookbook

20 January 2013 · By Anne Wong

To generate additional revenue, boost subscriptions, and enhance its brand, the South China Morning Post published a cookbook featuring recipes from its food editor and Hong Kong's top 20 chefs.

When it comes to dreaming up a premium to help boost subscriptions, we have many choices: developing branded merchandise, partnering with retailers for freebies, giving away some rarely used, trendy wine corkscrew or some ultrasonic pulse monitor and the like.

At the South China Morning Post, we decided last August to do something that took a bit more effort, but which was altogether more special and brand enhancing. Also, it was an idea that gave us additional revenue potential beyond the subscription sales.

As purveyors of daily content, we are sitting on a treasure trove of information and news that continues to accumulate over the life of our products. The majority of news content is outdated pretty quickly, but recipes are perennial, so we decided to create our very first cookbook to use as a premium.

It’s certainly a lot more work than buying an off-the-shelf solution from a book-licensing company and repackaging it as our own, but there’s an ingredient of unique brand engagement that can’t be replaced.

Our food editor, Susan Jung, has been with us for more than 15 years, and has a loyal following among our readers. Each week in our Sunday Post Magazine, she writes extensively about food, restaurants, and has a regular spot providing sumptuous recipes to try out. Each recipe is beautifully photographed and carries Susan’s signature down-to-earth tone.

Trained as a professional pastry chef and journalist, and a regular face at most of the great dining establishments in Hong Kong, Susan not only compiled a list of her 60 favourite recipes with editorial top notes, but also gave an additional twist to the cookbook by persuading 20 of Hong Kong’s top chefs to part with some of their best recipes.

These recipes were added to the collection, complete with stunning photography and step-by-step instruction on how to recreate culinary masterpieces at home. The result was “A Celebration of Food,” a book we could truly call our own, featuring 80 recipes for dining occasions involving family, friends, and feasts.

We designed, produced and printed the book in-house, and launched it in late November in time for Christmas, with a lovely champagne reception held for new subscribers and featured chefs.

Susan gave a speech and signed copies. Additionally, we secured direct distribution through all of the top book retailers in Hong Kong and conducted some “celebrity” book signings at selected stores.

Our book became an instant bestseller, ranking as the fourth top-selling non-fiction book and the best-selling cookbook during the holiday season, beating even the likes of Nigella, Jamie and Gordon.

Of course, it’s still there on the shelves, and will still be there next holiday season. Cookbooks are fairly timeless, and so we expect to continue selling for a few years more.

As an aside, the book was a very well-received Christmas gift among our advertisers and partners, and has added considerably to the already strong reputation of our food editor, boosting her must-read features every week.

We’ve still got the e-book version to work on, to help encourage downloads of our iPad and online versions, as well as distribution deals outside of Hong Kong, to tap into those interested in our local cuisine. All in all, lots of delicious oppourtunities, and a very satisfying project that has made us hungry to work on the next one! 

print article send to friend

blog comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The “Bottom-Line Marketing” blog aims to bring together the principles behind marketing with the real-world experiences of newspapers transitioning to newsmedia companies. Our bloggers are some of the leading marketers at the world’s leading newsmedia companies today, most with experiences with packaged goods and brands such as McDonald's and Disney. They will aim to show how marketing – often under-utilised in the news industry – improves the bottom line (even a baby's bottom).

Meet the bloggers

Lon Haenel
Vice President
Digital Media & Circulation
The Gazette
Janesville, Wisconsin, USA
send message

Bob Provost
Distinguished Executive-In Residence
Rutgers Business School
Newark, USA
send message

Phil Schroder
Vice President of Audience Development
News Tribune
Tacoma, Washington, USA
send message

Scott Stines
Cedar Rapids, USA
send message

Geoff Tan
Senior Vice President & Head of Strategic Marketing
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
News Centre, Singapore
send message


RSS feed

Blog archives

February 2015 ( 4 )
January 2015 ( 4 )
December 2014 ( 4 )
November 2014 ( 3 )
October 2014 ( 6 )
September 2014 ( 2 )
August 2014 ( 3 )
July 2014 ( 3 )
June 2014 ( 2 )
May 2014 ( 3 )
April 2014 ( 2 )
March 2014 ( 4 )
February 2014 ( 3 )
January 2014 ( 2 )
December 2013 ( 3 )
November 2013 ( 3 )
October 2013 ( 3 )
September 2013 ( 3 )
August 2013 ( 5 )
July 2013 ( 4 )

Join INMA Today
Upcoming Events
INMA Mobile Summit for Engagement and Profit
Austin, United States
09-10 March 2015
Big Data for Media Conference
London, United Kingdom
26-27 March 2015
INMA Augmenting Print with Digital Workshop
New Delhi, India
08 April 2015
INMA Ideas Day on Advertising
Paris, France
24 April 2015
INMA World Congress
New York, United States
10-12 May 2015
INMA Ideas Day on Marketing
Brussels, Belgium
22 May 2015

More Events

Member Profiles

  • Satish Keshav Mendon

  • Ron Hasse

  • Adrian Jeakings
    United Kingdom

  • Grant Moise

  • Scott Thompson

  • Robin Blanchard

©2015 INMA | Home | About | Contact | RSS | Privacy