Monocle Says Phooey to Digital

[responsive]monocle-coffe[/responsive]Tyler Brûlé pulls no punches. As founder and editor-in-chief of high-end lifestyle magazine Monocle, Brûlé unapologetically eschews social media for his highly successful brand.

“It’s great having lots of likes and lots of followers, but you have to wonder what are they worth if suddenly Twitter started to charge every month, if Facebook started to charge,” Brûlé ponders in an interview with Joseph Lichterman.

“They are free media, and I don’t think it sort of means a lot, to be honest. If you’re then promiscuous enough to jump to the next channel, how loyal are you as a consumer of brands?”

And loyalty is what the advertisers and partners in Monocle’s successful publishing brand crave.

“What I think is important to us is that we can say: People spend $150 a year to subscribe to the magazine. There’s absolutely no way for them to get it discounted. They have to spend $150. And they’re probably more likely to fly on your airline, or buy your shoes, or book into your hotel, or purchase one of your cars than someone who is in a free channel.”

This attitude has helped shape Monocle into a raging success, with a circulation of 80,000/month. They’ve leveraged their print title (Brûlé calls it their “cash cow”) into some fascinating new opportunities.

“The brand has since grown to include Monocle 24, a 24-hour online radio station, retail shops in six cities around the world, cafes in London and Tokyo, and more,” writes Lichterman.

They are even launching their own newsstand near London’s Paddington Station that will offer “a curated selection of magazines and newspapers as well as global newspapers printed on-demand. Customers will be able to register online, request a printing of newspapers ranging from Norway’s Aftenbladet to The Australian, and then come to the newsstand to pick it up,” says Lichterman.

What you won’t see from the brand, according to Brûlé, is a push to digitize their magazine.

“For a monthly magazine, I maintain, unless you’re in porn, there’s no money in doing a tablet edition of a magazine. Now we can see, and the results are there, that tablet growth — it just ain’t happening,” Brûlé asserts.

“We’ve been living with tablets for long enough now that we can see that people who like to read on tablets read on tablets, and those who want to read on print read on print. We can see there continue to be more people who read on paper than off of a backlit screen.”

“And, certainly on this side of the Atlantic,” Brûlé continues, “you’re seeing a lot of the monthly magazines retreat from their tablet editions completely, because it’s just not bearing the fruit that we thought.”

More than a magazine, Monocle is truly a brand that understands its readers, its advertisers and how to deliver what each need. For anyone who says print magazines can’t support a brand, we say don’t be ridiculous.