Kum & Go Deal With 'Des Moines Register' Runs Out of Gas

Termination of promotion a factor in newspaper's circulation drop

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Des Moines Register's circulation dropped by more than 7% in 2012 after the newspaper increased subscription prices, began to charge people to read it online, and discontinued a longstanding deal with Kum & Go LC that gave the convenience store chain's customers a free newspaper with a tank of gasoline, reported The Business Record.

The Sunday paper's paid circulation dropped by 16,435 to 189,538 between Sept. 2011 and Sept. 2012, the report said. The Monday through Friday circulation dropped by 7,633 to 97,518 during the same period, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, the organization that audits the circulation of magazines, journals and newspapers.

Register publisher Laura Hollingsworth said the "Kum & Go maneuver" was the result of Register and Kum & Go executives taking a hard look at the bottom line of that agreement and deciding to discontinue it. That alone reduced single-copy sales of the paper significantly, she said.

"Kum & Go is proud to continue our association with The Des Moines Register," David Miller

senior vice president of marketing for Kum & Go, told CSP Daily News. "We still offer the paper for sale at participating Iowa locations. We have revised our paper/fuel program, which is an important element to our marketing mix. Now, Kum & Go customers who purchase fuel on Sundays can receive a discounted Sunday newspaper for only 99 cents. We continually seek to bring value to our customers and the Des Moines Sunday paper/fuel promotion is a great value at [more than] 50% off the newsstand price."

He declined further comment.

Although paid circulation for the printed newspaper has dropped, Hollingsworth said that readership of the Register's website is up, as are the numbers of people reading the content on their mobile phones and tablet computers.

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go is the fifth largest privately held, company-operated convenience store chain in the United States. The family-owned company began in 1959, in Hampton, Iowa, and has grown to more than 400 convenience stores in 11 states (Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming). In addition to a wide selection of products, Kum & Go provides customers a proprietary mix of products under the Hiland brand. Other proprietary product offerings include Java Ridge Premium Coffee, Napa Creek and Sea Ridge wines, Go Fresh Market sandwiches and Nuclear energy drinks.