Publishers are increasingly opening up their own bars, cafés and restaurants as they look to branch out amid declining print circulation figures.
Take Condé Nast, for example. It recently launched a string of up-market international cafés, clubs and bars using its magazine brand names.
So far, it has launched a Vogue pop-up café in London and set up more permanent fixtures in Kiev, Dubai and Moscow. Consumers can also visit a ‘GQ bar’ in Dubai and a ‘Tatler club’ in Moscow. Most recently, the company expanded its base further by announcing two further establishments in Berlin and Porto, which are set to open in 2017 and are the first permanent establishments in Western Europe.
According to Condé Nast, each of these establishments has been designed to appeal to a high-end clientele, offering “world-class food and drink, stylish interiors and prime locations”, and ultimately aim to become the ‘go-to’ venues in their respective cities.
“We have taken a very natural path into hospitality, a growing sector, where consumers are seeking diverse restaurant and bar experiences, which can complement and elevate their everyday,” Simon Taylor, head of business development for restaurants, told Marketing Week.
“We personalise the offering by celebrating local cultures and trends, which unlocks the potential our brands have, and is a fresh way to invigorate the food and beverage sector.”
‘Food is a form of social currency’
ESI Media, which owns brands such as the Independent, the Evening Standard and London Live, has decided to go down a similar route. In 2017 it is launching ‘London Food Month’ – an outdoor food market that brings together chefs, bars, coffee shops, hotels, markets, restaurants, street food, writers, reviewers and readers.
It will also include a “mega pop-up” night market at Kensington Palace that looks to celebrate summer and the London food scene.
Dan Locke, chief agency strategy officer at ESI Media, told Marketing Week that many media brands have taken an interest in food due to London’s reputation for being a culinary capital.
“Food is a form of social currency for consumers and they love sharing food experiences on social media so it makes sense for media brands to take advantage of this,” he explained.
“We already have great partnerships in our other key category areas – our readers over-index for an interest in food content and going out to restaurants so launching a food event is the next logical, and exciting, step for us.”
However, for any brand looking to go down the food route, there has to be a natural spillover.
“Our Independent audience are global citizens with wide scope of interests who are curious about what’s new. Travel indexes highly for our Independent audience, and this in turn widens people’s experiences of other cultures, amplifying their appreciation of food,” he explained.
Taking a brand to the next level
Meanwhile, Time Out is rolling out ‘Time Out Markets’ as part of its global growth strategy. It is launching markets in London and Porto in 2017 after a successful venture in Lisbon, which opened its doors in 2014.
The market in Portugal reported year-on-year revenue growth of 106% in 2016, as well as 1.3 million visitors in the first six months of this year.
According to Sarah Bartlett, CMO at Time Out Group, the markets aim to bring to life the culture of each individual city, focusing on restaurants, bars, cooking academies, shops and art galleries. It still very much relies on the editorial expertise of its journalists.
“It brings together under one roof the best of the city: its best restaurants, shops, bars and cultural experiences, based on Time Out’s editorial curation. These efforts will expand Time Out’s international presence and raise the profile of the brand, which currently has a monthly global audience reach of 137 million,” she said.
Besides making economic sense, Bartlett said that Time Out’s expansion into food was all about taking the brand “to the next level”.
“It’s a great addition to all of our existing channels. We want to grow our brand, reach new audiences. Therefore, we always look into how we can expand across a multitude of channels, whether that’s through print, events, mobile, digital, social – or through Time Out Market,” she commented.
Despite these new ventures, all three publishers remain adamant that print will remain at the heart of their businesses, offering readers multiple routes to experience and engage with the brands.
As Condé Nast’s Taylor concluded: “In a global marketplace, the cafés and bars create brand awareness while complementing the titles and supporting our readership.”