New media platforms and devices have increased, rather than decreased, women’s propensity to rely on magazine brands for authoritative information on fashion and other topics, Brandon Holly, editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Lucky magazine, told Retail Marketplace attendees.
Print magazines are the “jewel in the crown” for publishers, and the newsstand channel is more important than ever to them not only as a revenue stream, but because of its brand-awareness-building power, Holly stressed. “Print is the most important part of my job—and newsstand [performance] is how I am judged,” she said.
However, “I do think that the magazine industry has not evolved enough,” she said. “We need to think about why women come to magazines, and what are our differentiators” from the myriad other media that are bombarding women. Changed consumer behavior does not mean that consumers want a replacement for print magazines—but it does mean that print magazines need to leverage the power of other communications platforms to create “new and exciting value at the newsstand,” Holly said.
A critical key to driving newsstand sales now is finding ways to “blend” print magazines’ traditional strength of delivering authoritative content (one-way conversation) with the user-generated content (UGC)/peer-to-peer sharing mode that characterizes social media, Holly said. “Print can be more interactive than it is,” she emphasized.
Lucky is trying every possible idea to foster that interactivity as a means of driving newsstand sales, she reported.
One example: The magazine has formed a “Style Collective” comprising 40 influential fashion bloggers with an aggregate audience of about 5 million. The huge followings of fashion bloggers have demonstrated that “women really want to speak to each other in this realm,” and the magazine’s bloggers will serve, for example, to help women interpret looks shown in the print magazine in ways that suit their own styles and lifestyles, she explained.
There are many possible ways to employ the bloggers to help drive newsstand sales, Holly noted. Among the first initiatives using this new engagement resource is having the bloggers present at fashion shoots for Lucky’s critical September issue. They will blog in real time during the shoots, and just prior to the issue’s arrival in stores, share their personal diaries about the experience—along with messages encouraging followers to go buy the issue in stores to see the shoots’ end results themselves.
Lucky is increasing its newsstand print run by millions of copies in anticipation of significantly increased demand as a result of the blogger collective and other print/social media initiatives, Holly reported.
Those other initiatives include:
*Adding text-to-buy codes in print issue fashion credits. “Women want immediate gratification,” Holly said. Providing text codes that women can use to be taken immediately to the online channels where they can purchase an item enhances the value of the print product and readers’ bond with the brand, she pointed out.
*Adding QR codes to enable readers to use their mobile phones for immediate access to videos and other online/mobile content. Holly said that she’s eager to work with retailers and other newsstand channel partners to develop effective, practical ways to employ QR codes—and other interactive opportunities—to greater advantage in driving retail sales.
One hypothetical idea she raised: Might retailers employ in-store signage with messaging that lets shoppers know that if they use their mobile phones to scan QR codes on the cover or inside the magazine, they will, for instance, receive “secret” messages from celebrities featured in that current issue? The point: Once in hand, the issue is of course likely to be purchased, since the shopper will want to get the full content relating to the celebrities and other topics of interest.
*“Game-ifying” content and offering deals. “Women are now used to getting rewarded for every single thing they do” online that relates to a brand, and to being offered interactive/fun games to earn those incentives, Holly said.
Lucky has created a mobile “Deal Hunter” feature that enables users to text in a code to get a hint, which in turn leads them to the next hint, about fashion deals. She suggested that channel partners work together to find ways to leverage digital and mobile capabilities on print covers to make the print product a vehicle for consumers to engage in games/processes that enable accessing desired content, and deals in particular.
Lucky employs mobile blasts and other digital promotions prior to a new issue’s arrival in stores to spotlight content and deals in the issue, but Holly said that she wants to find ways to leverage deals to greater advantage for newsstand purposes. For instance, she sees significant opportunities in reaching shoppers in-store via their mobile devices to cross-promote women’s magazines and related beauty/health products with combined-purchase deals—buy a cosmetic brand’s product along with the magazine issue and get X% off the cosmetic or the magazine.
“Women are constantly assaulted by information now, so anything that we can do to remind them that print magazines are their prime information source, particularly as they are passing the magazine newsstand display, is critical,” Holly said.
She also stressed that publishers need to realize that the process of integrating media platform content offerings and promotions to drive print and other extension sales and brand engagement is both never-ending and cyclical.
“It all starts with print, but we can seed that with initiatives like the blogger collective,” she said. The bloggers pass along content highlights and brand messaging to their millions of followers through social media and suggest that followers pick up the magazine in stores to get more content and deals, and their followers in turn pass along the news about those deals, trends and exclusives in the magazine to their own networks, she noted. Newsstand buyers then convey their enthusiasm for the magazine to those in their networks and on the blogs…and the cycle feeds itself.