Some time ago, we would lower our eyes respectfully when anyone mentioned the imminent death of print… but it has become apparent that prognosis was premature. Print has yanked out the drip, whipped off its gown and emerged in a new set of luxury PJs. How did this happen?
Browsing in a central London bookstore you can’t help but notice the groaning racks of magazines, all of a type. What do they have in common? Heavy paper (feel the weight), clean design, lovely uncluttered images with space to breathe, text respected – not shouting out from a Day-Glo banner or fighting for room on the page. And why do these look so at home in a bookstore? Because like everything else there, these magazines are collectable, keepable, tangible print.
By contrast the internet has largely seen off flimsy mags – the kind that you’d grab at the station to flick through on the train to work – and fast-moving news. We can get our fix of celebrity gossip, fashion tips, and Brexit updates straight to our phones. I don’t need to wait a week to find out if Cheryl Cole/Tweedy/Fernandez-Versini is still married or if I’m wearing the right tights for S/S 19. Last year’s stats show international news and current affairs publications falling by 15% year-on-year, with women’s weeklies being the other hardest hit sector. Meanwhile online is a world of instant-grabbable, easily-readable content, that’s shareable and which invites a real dialogue with readers thanks to the comments section. There’s a huge noisy roomful of chatter out there and we can all join in.
But as the market in disposable print shrinks, luxury has grown. Literary and photography magazines along with specialist interest publications are picking up sales and the high-end big-budget monthlies are going strong; think Wallpaper*, Vogue and Vanity Fair.
So what makes a magazine a “luxury magazine,” aside from the production values and design? What makes us want to keep hold of our copy, read it again, and lend it to friends?
Content is key. The unexpected, the unheard-of, the inside view, the expert opinion, discovering the new, uncovering the hidden, rediscovering the forgotten: these all make for stories that you won’t necessarily read anywhere else or in quite the same way. Luxury here is about the value of time and space. Time to wait for the right moment to tell a story, and the space to show it in all its glory. And for the end-user, the time to savour a story well-told.
Take one example. Back in the mid 90s, Philip Treacy was just starting out on a trajectory that would take him to the very top of the millinery world, hatter to British royalty and collaborator with stars such as Lady Gaga. The work of the then relative unknown graced the cover of the first issue of one of our luxury magazines. Twenty years later he gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of his studio for the brand’s password-protected website. Why? Well, because he wanted to enthuse about his beloved Parisian hat block maker whom we’d featured in the most recent issue.
The chances are that you’ve never heard of the formier Lorenzo Ré. Not many people have. The thing is, it’s not about the celebrity but the craftsmanship, and that’s what true luxury brands have in common with the printed word. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.
In the Fabric case study, see how Bookmark engaged London’s most affluent individuals. With quality editorial content rooted in local knowledge, celebrity interviews, fine dining and interior design inspiration, the content strategy successfully generated leads for a consortium of London real estate agents.