Since the dawn of digital publishing, prognosticators have been predicting the demise of print. Considering the relatively low cost of digital magazines, that speculation is somewhat justified. But the funny thing is, it’s been decades since the first digital publishing efforts appeared, and even though digital edition readership is increasing, people are reading print at about the same rate. Yes, some print magazine publishers are discontinuing print and moving to a digital-only format, but many are launching new print magazines, and lifestyle and luxury titles continue to set sales records. Why are these publications thriving and what lessons can other publishers learn from their success?
Contrary to what you may think, members of the overwhelmingly “connected” millennial generation are not turning their backs on print. In fact, for some print titles — that’s an important distinction — younger readership has never been greater. In other magazine categories, the screen has indeed replaced the printed page. According to a Conde Nast report on the popularity of certain print magazine categories across different age groups:
- Magazine categories such as fashion and beauty, upscale living, men, and health men are flourishing in print — especially among younger audiences — while women’s and news magazines attract fewer younger readers.
- Fashion and beauty titles are attracting more millennials while retaining older audience appeal.
- Luxury lifestyle, travel, and leisure magazines have always been popular with middle-aged and older readers, but millennials are now showing high interest in these titles.
Although newsstand sales have trended downward over the past few years, Hearst print titles such as Food Network Magazine, HGTV Magazine, and Dr. Oz The Good Life have grown in newsstand sales since launching.
“I truly believe that because the need for a curated, calm space to look at the things you love and to get inspired to do the things you love to do, the better off we are,” says Food Network Magazine Editor-in-Chief Maile Carpenter, according to a Mr. Magazine article. “And so the importance of the magazine and the way it makes you feel is more precious now than it ever has been.”
The allure of lifestyle in print
Why do luxury lifestyle magazines do so well in print format when other publishers have moved to e-only? Print lifestyle magazines are selling personal experiences in bright, bold, tactile pages that invite you in to those lifestyles, make you comfortable, and inspire your passions. Affluent and older readers use the pages to reinforce their affluent lifestyles while those younger and not yet as affluent use those pages to inspire and dream.
On the flip side, news, business, and high-tech print magazine publishers are switching to digital as these topics don’t need large and luxurious pages to attract readers. Audiences read these in digital formats because speed, convenience, and interactivity are more important than losing themselves in the feeling and experience.
More than pretty pages
But don’t assume these printed lifestyle, fashion, and food publications are just fluff and pictures: The quality and usefulness of the editorial content perfectly complements the page aesthetics. Readers consistently gravitate toward publications that deliver information they desire, and they stay because of the experience: the paper glossiness, the affluent feelings, the stirrings of passions and desires. Upscale product merchants understand the power and charisma of paper and use these glossy, lavish pages as a primary vehicle for advertising their products because they know their competition will be there.
Although adding or switching to a digital presence is certainly on the rise — in many cases — upscale lifestyle publishers continue to thrive with their big, bold, lavish titles. These publishers understand it’s difficult to replicate the experience of settling into the couch with a glossy, luxurious fashion or dining magazine on a small laptop screen. So, it’s not simply a battle between print and digital; it’s determining how your audience members want to consume your content and meeting them there.
Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation or visit our contact page to learn how Sheridan experts can help streamline and simplify your publishing processes.