Digital technology has been a disrupter to every industry, including print publishing. Over the past decade, publishers have adapted their existing workflows to an online audience, changing distribution patterns, and adding and shifting new delivery channels. Smaller, niche publications sprang up as digital-only publications and print publications scrambled to shift their business models. Perhaps surprisingly, this shift to digital-first led many publishers to increase magazine trim size and improve paper stock. This has created a new luxury feel to the print industry, as many publishing houses prioritized design quality and editorial reporting to stand out from their digital competitors.
The luxury status of print
Digital is the cheaper, less refined sister of the more sophisticated print medium. At least that’s how some publishers are playing it these days. The idea is to elevate print to a more sensuous luxury status with glossy graphics and heavy paper to create increasing consumer engagement, an improved brand image, and even a more sensory attachment to the product. When the Harvard Business Review followed this approach, they increased their subscribers by 10%. Popular Science wasn’t far behind and their return was even greater, increasing their subscriber base by 30%. While increasing print runs may seem counterintuitive, this appears not to be the case, as these brands take advantage of “haptics,” or the science of texture and touch. High quality products create an attention-grabbing response from the consumer and convey an elite persona for a traditional print publication.
Multiple studies, from the Canada Post and the USPS show us that these neuromarketing techniques or the exploration (and possible exploitation) of the consumer’s subconscious response to haptics increase the product’s value in the mind of the end user. The USPS study stated, “Physical ads, though slower to get one’s attention at first exposure, leave a longer lasting impact for easy recall when making a purchase decision. Most importantly, physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain (ventral striatum) that is responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.”
Making print luxurious
It appears publishers are on to something. Media Post reported that, while many major print magazines saw their audiences decline, People (89.1 million), Allrecipes (61.7 million) and Good Housekeeping (60.7 million), had the largest brand audiences across platforms in September 2020.
However, publishers will need to raise prices to keep their luxury products on the shelves. Sheridan’s white paper, “The Future of Print is Premium” outlines some of the trends publishers can capitalize on to rework their business plans to incorporate luxury publications:
- Magazine categories such as fashion and beauty, upscale living, men, and men’s health 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.
The reality we’re facing is a bright one: There is evidence that publishers can prove their value as a luxury item to create engaging content that simply can’t be found in today’s digital-first world.
Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.