Condé Nast is a different beast to its publishing rivals. Credited with creating the “lifestyle magazine”, it has a portfolio of premium titles that focus on fashion, brides, interiors and home, travel, food and high-end celebrity and society stories.
Its magazines, including Vogue, Tatler, GQ, Vanity Fair and The World of Interiors, attract premium advertisers, protecting it from the vagaries of the mainstream, which is increasingly driven by celebrity weddings, births and break-ups.
But as Paul Thomas, managing partner at MindShare, points out, its introduction of Glamour in 2001 and Easy Living in 2005 opened it up to the pressures of the mass-market here in the UK.
While Glamour suffered a dip in circulation in the UK during 2007 – 6.5% year on year according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures – the title is a key part of the company’s international business and it is understood to be considering launching in Japan and Australia. Condé Nast is seeking an advertising agency to support the magazine’s growing reach (MW last week).
Of course, Glamour is itself a US import, and has already been launched in several European countries, parts of central and south America and in Russia. Condé Nast is also launching a Russian edition of Tatler in September, while Vogue and GQ are already very much global brands.
Its international expansion is focused on taking its luxury brands to emerging markets where there are growing numbers of rich consumers looking to indulge themselves. As one agency source points out, Condé Nast brands have “very entrenched positionings” that will “flatter the new rich in new markets”.
But he questions whether Condé Nast is following this strategy in its development of new media as it seeks to increase revenue in its established portfolio. “What we are looking for are opportunities to leverage cross-platform opportunities, but one has a feeling the sites are there because they need to be, rather than them being compelling in their own right.”
Glamour publishing director Simon Kippin disagrees. He says Condé Nast was the first glossy magazine publisher to launch online, and continues to “invest significantly in its digital presence”. Vogue.com re-launched in April and Glamour.com is due to be revamped next month. New features such as blogs, mobile and streaming content are being added.
The UK circulation of Glamour, 550,066 for the six months to the end of December, suggests that it is struggling albeit in a difficult sector that has been hit by the popularity of the fashion and celebrity weeklies and increased competition online. Despite this, says MindShare’s Thomas, it is still the leading women’s monthly, outselling Cosmopolitan in every market.
However, the decision to give 150,000 copies of Glamour away with Easy Living in the December issue last year, boosting its circulation before the end of the ABCs period, grated with media buyers, who would rather investment went into driving long-term growth.
Hard to find the Easy Living connection
“If you read Easy Living, it is unlikely there will be any secondary readers for Glamour in your household so there was no value in doing it,” says Mediaedge:cia account director Lindsey Wolfryd. She adds that this was followed by a series of Glamour covermounts which boosted circulation for those issues only, with sales falling for those without one.
Kippin says it restricts covermounts to just four a year and only ties up with “sought after” brands. He adds that the magazine’s sales are up 5% on the period and the title is in good health.
Condé Nast insists that all of its markets are a priority, but the agency source is sceptical, believing international expansion remains the primary focus for driving new revenues. He adds: “If it can increase revenue by using the same model in new markets then that is fine, but it will lead to some stagnation in its heartland, the UK.”