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How to deliver a magazine experience that inspires


July 29, 2021
By Erwin Busselot

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The physicality of high quality print combined with carefully curated content has been driving an uplift in magazine subscriptions.

During the pandemic, British print magazine subscriptions increased 13 per cent, according to consumer magazine marketing body Magnetic – double that of online subscriptions. Global publisher Bauer reported up to tenfold increases for titles including Yours and Grazia.

In America, subscriptions doubled for Condé Nast (publisher of Vogue, The New Yorker and Wired) while solid growth was reported in China, Germany, India, Spain and Russia. Chief operating officer Wolfgang Blau attributed this to readers opting to spend time with high quality magazines and an increased appreciation for physical interaction.

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This focus on the experience a magazine delivers is something Professor Samir Husni, founder of the University of Mississippi’s Magazine Innovation Center at the School of Journalism and New Media, has also found. He stated publishers are targeting subscription sales rather than ad revenue – a new launch has an average cover price of $7.99 compared to $5 for established publications – with the extra cost reflected by a changing look and feel. New titles are featuring heavier stock paper and thicker covers.

British insights consultancy Wessenden Marketing also predicted the future for the sector was a low volume, low frequency, high premium product that occupies tight, vertical niches. It said the average cover price of recent launches jumped 11 per cent year on year to a record £4.52.

Managing director Jim Bilton said true digital-only magazine launches are rare. Most have a lower frequency, lower volume, higher priced print companion using better quality paper. He added that it is smaller, “passion” publishers that are driving growth. In 2005, 33 titles had launch distributions of over 100,000 copies and three had over one million: Full House, TV Easy and Pick Me Up. In 2020, the biggest launch was Lego Super Hero Legends with 64,000 copies.

It is this refreshed relationship with magazines, combined with passion publishing, that inspired A-lister Drew Barrymore to launch a quarterly lifestyle print magazine in June in collaboration with Bauer Media. She says Drew, an extension of her talk show, and her Instagram profile, makes sense as a way to cement brand loyalty and cohesion.

Brands want to stand out and create meaningful connection with their customers. They want to develop direct relationships that foster brand loyalty.

Print differentiates from a sea of online content.

More than 55 per cent of readers trust magazines and they are 1.3 times more likely to agree that magazines touch them deeply and inspire them. Almost half say reading a magazine is a treat and something they use to kick back and relax.

Inkjet makes high quality variable run length print highly viable. It delivers production versatility that allows brands to bring experiential print to life. Engaging, relevant content and vibrant imagery on luxury stock are easily combined to create a magazine experience that inspires readers and helps brands connect.

It reignites a passion for print.

Erwin Busselot is business innovations and solutions director, Graphic Communications Group, Ricoh Europe.