Higher quality paper… larger trim sizes… more ambitious long-form content… creative partnerships with important events… higher prices… These are just some of the hallmarks of the modern consumer magazine, geared less toward the general public and more toward a passionate (and more engaged) readership.
“On Jan. 30, Hearst Autos announced a new luxury magazine for auto enthusiasts called R&T, a lifestyle counterpart to Road & Track magazine that will be printed on premium oversized paper stock,” writes Leah Wynalek in Publishing Executive. “A day earlier, Meredith Corporation announced a larger trim size and improved paper quality for its monthly Travel + Leisure, beginning with the March 2020 issue. Meredith’s new Property Brothers title, Reveal, also hit newsstands in January, as did the company’s revamped quarterly Rachael Ray magazine on upgraded stock.”
These trends are indicative of publishers’ reinvestment in the lean-back experience of printed magazines, at a time when we are all searching for something to engage us deeply, beyond the immediacy of social feeds and new cycles.
“People are bombarded by things all day long. They’re on their phones 24/7, and they’re watching and consuming media from a variety of channels,” says Meredith’s Jacqui Gifford, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure. “I believe when you’re taking the time to read a magazine you want to pause and reflect, and so from a visual standpoint the book needed to be more uncluttered.”
As Gifford explains, the team at T + L met this challenge by adding more white space, redesigning the way they handle photo captions, making images larger throughout the title, and other design tactics to create the cleaner look.
At Hearst Autos, the changes are all about multi-level engagement, explains Michele Panzer, CMO. She notes how the Road & Track brand is using the launch of R & T magazine to more fully engage the “multi-generational community of auto lifestyle enthusiasts.”
They are launching their new luxury title to coincide with this year’s Indy 500, and the brand will have a visible presence at the race. Meanwhile at Bronner the mantra is quality quality quality as they switch several popular titles to a quarterly frequency.
“As part of the switch, the publications were enhanced with bigger folio sizes, improved paper quality, and more editorial pages,” Wynalek explains. “Gregory Gatto, executive vice president at Bonnier Media, says the frequency reduction has enabled greater editorial ambition and a better reader experience.”
“As media habits have changed, we have reevaluated our content strategies to align with how people are consuming media,” Gatto said. “We haven’t abandoned print as a home for service content, but rather we adjusted the content mix to allow for more-ambitious pieces, while shifting searchable service content to digital and social platforms.”
This all bodes very well for the magazine industry, especially brands like these that have learned what their audience truly wants and figured out the revenue models – paid content, advertising, premium pricing, experiential tie-ins, etc. – that truly work for them.
So lean back, pick up a magazine, and see if you agree that print has a pretty sweet future.