2014: The Year of the Quarterlies?

[responsive]quarterlymagazine[/responsive]If there’s one thing this industry has shown us this year, it’s that publishers are growing more aware of the brand-building prowess of print – and in particular, quarterly print glossies. From upscale niche publications to digital-first brands to legacy titles, we saw several launches of new quarterly print magazines, in a wide range of categories.

The most recent quarterly entrant, “Eat This, Not That!,” was announced just last week.

“The Meredith Corporation is introducing on newsstands a quarterly magazine called Eat This, Not That!, which is based on the column that began a decade ago in Men’s Health and has expanded into a series of books that have sold seven million copies,” notes Christine Haughney in last week’s New York Times. “The new 120-page magazine, which will make its debut on 80,000 newsstands and other locations on Tuesday, costs $13.”

Meredith’s Tom Hardy explains that he views the market for these higher-priced quarterlies as highly favorable, Haughney notes, adding that “[Hardy] also noted that there seemed to be an appetite for more expensive and higher-quality magazines, often called bookazines, for which readers will pay a premium.”

In an entirely different category, CNET’s launch of a print quarterly made news this fall, with a full color glossy that will include all original content.

“What CNET really seems to be doing, of course, is publishing a SIP (special interest publication) on a quarterly basis to attract advertising and fill a hole in the newsstands that are now missing magazines like Macworld, and others,” noted D. B. Hebbard at the time. “According to the NYT, the magazine has attracted ads from AT&T, Ford, Gillette, and others.”

The future of the CNET brand, according to Jim Lanzone of CBS Interactive (CNET’s parent company), is “multiplatform…because we know the audience wants to experience CNET in multiple ways.” He goes on to explain that the magazine will be more “lifestyle” focused that the typical early-adopter slant of the digital content, allowing them to appeal to a much broader market.

This idea of a lifestyle oriented print experience has solid appeal in the travel and hospitality industry as well, with both AirBNB and luxury boutique hotel chain The Standard launching new titles. Joey Jalleo of The Standard notes that they are taking a somewhat unexpected path by catering to the upscale consumer’s predilection for print materials.

“By reversing industry trends and going from digital to print, we are reinforcing the continued desire of having paper in hand,” Jalleo told Sivani Vora of the NY Times.

It’s a good move for the brand, and shows they really know and understand their audience. When I get a hotel room after a long flight, the last thing I want to do is charge up my tablet and browse a website. But give me a printed magazine, and I’m all yours.

It is this type of deep understanding of your audience’s preferences and behaviors that can lead to a highly successful print title, a sentiment that is echoed by AirBNB’s Andrew Schapiro who told Jane Levere of the NY Times that “the company had been considering starting a magazine for several years and was moving forward now following its rebranding campaign and new symbol, the Bélo, the universal symbol of belonging.” That’s perfect positioning for a brand that caters to those who find themselves “at home” anywhere in the world.

As brands come to terms with their existence in a truly multi-platform world, the savvy ones continue to look to consumer preferences and behaviors to guide their media choices. And increasingly, for high-end, mass market and specialty niches, print becomes more and more a clear choice for engagement.