Road & Track Joins the Wrong List

Today, Daily Finance has put forth their prediction for the Top 10 Brands that will disappear in 2013. Among them, Road & Track.

To make the list, a brand must be suffering from one or more of these seven problems:

  1. Declining sales and losses;
  2. Disclosures by the parent of the brand that it might go out of business;
  3. Rising costs that are unlikely to be recouped through higher prices;
  4. Companies that are sold;
  5. Companies that go into bankruptcy;
  6. Companies that have lost the great majority of their customers; and
  7. Operations with withering market share.

This year’s list reflects the brutally competitive nature of certain industries and the importance of not falling behind in efficiency, innovation or financing. The list also reflects how industry trends can accelerate the demise of certain brands. This year, we included two magazines – Martha Stewart Living and Road & Track. Print advertising is in a multiyear decline, but some magazines have fared worse than others. These two have suffered sharp drops in advertising revenue over the past five years. Magazines also carry the heavy legacy costs of printing, paper and distribution, a problem not shared by online-only competition.

Founded in 1947, Road & Track is the oldest and most well-regarded automotive magazine in the country, according to Hearst, the publication’s owner since 2011. Road & Track and its better-selling stablemate, Car & Driver, have been among the top brands in the industry for years. However, Road & Track operates in a crowded market, which includes several other large publications and a substantial number of popular car websites. The four dominant magazines have all posted advertising sales drops in the past five years as Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Automobile have each lost hundreds of ad pages. Road & Track has had the worst of it. Ad pages fell from 1,092 in 2008 to 699 last year. Pages are down another 31% to 232 for the first six months of this year, according to MIN. Car & Driver has an audience of 10.7 million people, which according to Hearst makes it the world’s largest automobile magazine brand. Hearst doesn’t need to support two slumping car magazines. Since both are based in Ann Arbor, Mich., a consolidation of staffs and subscribers would be a money-saving option.
Okay, naysayers, how many times has CPI declared the inevitable decline of the Fab Four? Yet I have no joy in reporting this logical end to R&T, my favorite teen rag, purveyor of motoring escapism, brilliant writing, and even better timing.
Oh, Henry Manney, thankfully you do not share the ruin.

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  1. How they have stayed in biz this long is surprising.

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