John Lewis glossy aims to add kudos to customer titles

John Lewis is launching an in-store magazine based along the lines of a newsstand glossy in the hope that customers won’t dismiss the freebie as mere promotional bumf.

John Lewis Edition
Stylish: The first front cover of John Lewis Edition

A new glossy will launch this week, but not on the nation’s newsstands. Retailer John Lewis will be unveiling its customer magazine this week (3 September), backed by an in-store marketing campaign.

John Lewis Edition – produced by John Brown – will be available in the retailer’s own stores and those of sister brand, Waitrose, across the country, with an initial print run of 500,000. The five-times-a-year magazine aims to create an “intimate dialogue” between the brand and its consumers, while showcasing products available in-store.

But while customer magazines are traditionally used as a sales tool, Edition appears to offer a lifestyle proposition closer to traditional glossies.

The magazine will also be run by an editor-in-chief more used to working in the traditional paid-for glossy magazine market. Marie O’Riordan, ex-editor of Marie Claire, confirms: “I want this magazine to feel equivalent in pleasure to the reader as a newsstand magazine.”

While unwilling to suggest that Edition will take readers away from more traditional titles, O’Riordan says it will provide “added value” for John Lewis customers.

She explains the magazine will reflect consumer lifestyles and says the launch issue features an interview with actress Anna Friel and a travel feature on Cambodia.

Paul Porral, head of creative services at John Lewis, says that Edition will sit closer to the ethos of the John Lewis “masterbrand” than the retailer’s current customer magazine, Source, which will go.

“Edition has stories that are connected to the lifestyle and demographic of our customers,” he claims. “I think that it’s really credible and not some sort of ‘maga-log’ that’s just trying to shift products with a glossy cover.”

With Mintel predicting that the customer magazine market will grow to break the £1bn mark by 2012, it is no surprise that John Lewis is putting such investment into Edition.

Julia Hutchison, chief operating officer of the Association of Publishing, says customer magazines are an important way for marketers to speak to their target audiences.

“Marketers are fully aware of the engagement that print media delivers,” she reports. “As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of brands commit to the channel as they look to strengthen relationships with their customers in these difficult economic times.”

Edition will also offer John Lewis a chance to get those brands stocked in its stores to advertise, because it will carry paid-for ads. It hopes to get those brands targeting its core shoppers – women aged 35 to 45 years old – involved.

Porral says that if the magazine gets customers to consider new departments of John Lewis, where they might not have shopped before, it will be a success.

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