Condé Nast Defying the So-Called Digital Erosion

CondeNastTraveler_5448“There is something extraordinarily alluring about a glossy magazine, the physical quality, particularly a very thick one.” — Condé Nast’s Nicholas Coleridge.

Thanks to his brand’s winning strategy for defying “Internet erosion,” Condé Nast’s Nicholas Coleridge says his company’s magazine sales have held up well, according to Paul Charman writing in The Media Society.

Charman gives a good summary of Coleridge’s appearance at a recent Media Society event in London, during which Coleridge recalled one dire prediction made about the digital revolution.

“[Coleridge] recalled how a Henley Centre ‘futurologist” had predicted at a conference 15 years ago that ‘the magazine industry would be completely over within a decade with the onslaught of digital’,” Charman writes.

“Vogue sold 135,000 copies a month when [Coleridge] joined Condé Nast in 1989, which people then thought had ‘topped out’,” notes Charman. “But the industry was ‘astonished’ to see the magazine today selling a third more at 200,000 a month, with Tatler rising from 25,000 to 85-90,000 copies, and GQ from 40,000 to 120,000. And the March issue of Vogue had sold more advertising than any other March issue in its 99-year-old history.”

“That may astound people in the advertising industry so mesmerised are we by the inevitable rise of digital, which by the way I do think is inevitable. But I do think the magazine industry will survive for a very long time to come, possibly in a slightly contracted form,” Coleridge is quoted as saying.

Coleridge says he not at all surprised that the magazine industry defied that prediction.

“There is something extraordinarily alluring about a glossy magazine, the physical quality, particularly a very thick one,” he continues. “It is a pleasure that cannot easily be matched, the care taken by art departments, impossible in a faster-moving medium, and the sense of a club feel…you feel yourself attractively badged and comfortable.”

As for the expected digital erosion, it simply hasn’t materialized.

“Ninety percent of profits within the group still came from its magazines with 10 percent from digital,” Coleridge said. “And while all Condé Nast’s magazines were available on an iPad, at the moment I wouldn’t say that there’s a huge rush, or like it’s a growing market.”

The takeaway?

The magazine industry has teeth, and while developing other revenue streams can be a useful add-on, there is absolutely no reason to abandon print if it’s worked for a brand before.