It’s no secret that magazines are struggling. In an industry hit hard by declining circulation numbers, plummeting ad sales, and intense competition from newer digital properties, traditional publishers need to get creative in order to survive. A couple of well-known fashion-magazine companies are hoping to do just that by turning to retail to prop up revenues.
One of the two is 107-year-old brand Condé Nast, which launched Style.com in the UK in September. The e-commerce site sells high-end, luxury fashion from some 350 designer brands, including Valentino, Gucci, and Alexander Wang. Visitors to Vogue.co.uk and GQ.co.uk are directed to Style.com, where they can buy products they’ve just read about.
Through technology, the site can cherry-pick recommendations based on individual preferences. Merchandise fulfillment is handled by the individual brands, while Condé Nast takes a cut of each transaction. The site is so far only available to audiences in the UK, with expansion into more European markets and the US to follow soon.
The second example is from Time UK title Marie Claire. The brand has launched Fabled by Marie Claire — a new physical store in London and a corresponding website — in partnership with British online grocer Ocado. The site sells over 12,000 beauty and wellness products from brands such as Chanel, Clinique, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Will these retail efforts pay off? So far it remains to be seen. The idea is certainly a promising one. In addition to providing brands with a publisher’s stable of valued readers, the business model also gives them access to content, market knowledge, and customer intelligence.
Despite the hopeful outlook, industry trade publication Business of Fashion earlier this month reported that Style.com has “met with a lukewarm reception” and employees are said to be bracing for layoffs. Meanwhile, Time UK recently consolidated all of its digital operations, among them Fabled by Marie Claire, in a restructuring that included job cuts. No doubt these publishers are counting on a robust holiday shopping season to turn things around after a bumpy start.
Industry Impact — Magazine publishers may turn a watchful eye towards a couple of recent high-profile attempts to launch successful retail operations.
Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Style.com.