Things are tough out there for media brands; there’s no question that the pandemic is having a brutal impact on media outlets that rely on advertising to foot the bill. On the other hand, some are thriving, due to their ability to pivot quickly and create content that resonates with life as we now know it.
“Subscriptions to glossy magazines are up, sales of publications focusing on puzzles or content for children are soaring, and websites capitalizing on hundreds of millions of amateur cooks, bakers and gardeners stuck at home are seeing record traffic,” write Joey D’Urso and Alberto Nardelli in BuzzFeed.
This follows other recent news that UK subscriptions are surging as people stay home and indulge in their passion projects.
“Readers simply have more time now,” said Wolfgang Blau, chief operating officer and president, international, Condé Nast. “They can’t go out on weekends or in the evenings,” he told BuzzFeed News, “so instead they ‘opt for high-quality magazines.’”
Condé Nast reports sales on the rise the last two months, and subscriptions are hitting all-time highs for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and AD (Architectural Digest), the article notes. According to Blau, it’s not business as usual, however. Titles must “shift gears” editorially to resonate with their readers who are feeling the impacts of COVID-19.
“Vanity Fair is now trying to be a forum for ‘Italy’s own soul searching and self-examination of what it will be and what it wants to be after this marathon of pain is over,’” said Blau. “In journalistic terms, you might call that factor ‘editorial relevance’, but I think they achieved more than just that. The team of Vanity Fair realised it had become a lifeline for its readers and then has risen up to that enormous responsibility.”
It’s fascinating to see readers turn to in-depth coverage of this crisis that magazines can provide. But it’s not just news that’s appealing. Much of the surge in sales can be attributed to readers longing for an escape.
Puzzle books, kids magazines, home titles, décor … these are also doing well now, as consumers have more time to read and are looking for an escape. It will be interesting to see how well publishers can engage now and keep this interest once we all start leaving our homes again.
One thing we do know; people will buy magazines to feed their soul. Publishers just have to make sure they are creating the kind of content their audience is craving.