The Economist is one of the fixtures in the magazine industry; they’ve been around in one format or another since 1843. So it was fitting that they named their spin-off title 1843 when it launched in 2016.
At the time, the magazine was intended to offer a high-end, immersive content experience that would serve a different purpose within the Economist brand experience. Recently, Michael Feeley writing in The Drum interviewed editor Rosie Blau and publisher Mark Beard to get their feelings on 1843 and where it fits into the brand ecosphere.
“We’re for a different moment in your day. Both titles share the same values, the same rigour, independence and intelligence. But they serve a different purpose.”
“I see 1843 as expanding The Economist’s universe,” Blau said. “We’re for a different moment in your day. Both titles share the same values, the same rigour, independence and intelligence. But they serve a different purpose.
“You read The Economist to understand the world out there, and you read 1843 to illuminate your own life and your own experiences,” Blau continued. “The subject is different and complementary — and the approach is different too. The Economist explains, whereas 1843 tells stories. And we look different too, giving as much emphasis to visual storytelling as we do words.”
Beard agrees, and says 1843 helps expand the brand in critical ways.
“1843’s content and environment attracts a range of advertisers who may not otherwise invest their marketing budgets with the Economist Group,” Beard said. “And similarly, 1843 is not only enjoyed by existing subscribers to The Economist, but also serves as an entry-point to the Group’s content, attracting readers some of whom will then not only subscribe to 1843 but also The Economist. And so 1843 is complementary to The Economist, attracting new audiences and advertisers.”
It’s working, beautifully, thanks in large part to commitment to providing what their readers want.
“The key is to remain focused on what our audience demands in terms of the ways in which they want to consume the content, and to stay one step ahead of that,” Beard explains, echoing the audience-first sentiment that sets successful publishers apart from those that are still struggling.
“We start with a “stories first” approach, and then work out what format to use, and what medium,” Beard explains. “Sometimes that means pieces are the same online as in print, but for others we do something very different. And we produce films and podcasts too. We’re always looking for ways to present content, so it’s great that we have so many different outlets.
For magazine media brands like The Economist, print continues to have a secure place in the ecosystem.
“We persist with print because we’ve found a lot of people have a real connection to a print product, and because we’re producing a really beautiful object. If you look at the magazine market now you can see that there’s been a real upsurge in beautifully produced titles — you could say they’re the coffee table books of our day,” Beard notes.
“Where we are different from many of those other titles is that our content is fabulous too — we’ve got amazing photos that we’ve given over entire spreads to, but you’re going to want to read it too. So it works really well in print, it’s a beautiful item for those who want it,” he continues. “Many of our readers prefer to read the digital edition, and that’s great too. We’ve seen a proliferation of publishing methods and different readers want different things.”
This kind of pragmatic, grounded approach is refreshing – creating superb content in the formats that their readers like. The future of magazine publishing makes a whole lot of sense when you put it this way.