Monday, May 14, 2012

Three Ways Fashion Magazines can Recapture the Spotlight

With these digital strategies fashion magazine can stop the (fashion) bloggers from strutting all over them

by Kathryn Rubin Goodman

Fashion Magazines digital strategy

“Video killed the radio star” but has the Internet, particularly bloggers, slain the fashion magazine? Vogue, Elle, Glamour and Cosmopolitan are iconic brands– but how many of us actually purchase these magazines anymore? Falling sales figures and tumbling advertising revenue, beckons the question: are fashion magazines outmoded?

Magazine publishers blame Internet, arguing that the disintermediation of content online allows consumers to choose from an overabundance of free sources. While it’s true that people always prefer ‘free stuff’, there may be another reason that consumer’s are abandoning their allegiance to the fashion magazines in lieu of fashion blogs.

A whole new set of ‘fashion’ dictators in town
Once upon a time, what Vogue said was ‘IT’. Considered the ‘bible of fashion’ its decision of what colors and what silhouettes to feature trickled all the way down from Yves Saint Lauren to Target’s clearance bin; but now fashion bloggers have seized the reigns. So what do fashion bloggers have?

Trustworthy-ness: To younger consumers, fashion blogs seem more honest than established mainstream titles such as Glamour and Elle, after all they display the day-to-day looks of real women without the elaborate photo shoots equipped with an army of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists. Designers and retailers have taken note of this trend, and have begun to usher these fashion bloggers out from behind their computer screens and into the spotlight. Just look at TJMaxx’s latest set of commercials, featuring fashion blogger Lindsey Calla (aka Saucy Glossie) walking viewers through her favorite looks. The birth of this latest partnership has allowed bloggers to lure even more readers away from the mainstream fashion magazines.

Real-time delivery: In a world where ‘on-demand’ rules, fashion brands see bloggers as a way to deliver instant news about the latest trends. Just scan the front row at a fashion show and you'll see that coveted spots typically reserved for magazine editors and celebrities are now also being filled by fashion bloggers, whose avid followers await their minute-by-minute updates. The rapid pace of social media allows consumers to engage with fashion brands in real-time, so fashion houses are no longer constrained by Vogue’s schedule. They can now swiftly distribute their own content directly to the consumer, bypassing the magazines entirely.

Three ways to rule once more
So what’s a fashion magazine to do? Option 1:fold up its pages or option 2: FIGHT. Fashion bloggers have created a unique experience for consumers, one that is timely and personal; fashion magazines should combined digital capabilities of tablets and smartphones with their formidable resources to create a truly engaging experience that will out shine the bloggers.

Below are three ways to create a strategy that will boost engagement, translate into increased profitability and help fashion magazines win this 'cat fight':

1. ATTACK on multiple fronts: Today, you can access fashion magazines' content online, on your tablet and on your smartphone; but it’s basically all the same! However, these different mediums need to compliment rather than substitute each other. Fashion magazines should channel their energy into developing killer tablet apps for the monthly issues, turning the websites into real-time updates for a quick fix and creating smartphone apps that deliver much-needed ‘service-oriented content’. By using these different mediums to satisfy distinctive needs, fashion magazines can create a full range of experiences that fashion bloggers cannot even come close to realizing.

2. ENGAGE the consumer: Fashion magazines have neglected the technological capabilities of the tablets, smartphones and even our PCs, placing the quality of the content above all else; and while content is definitely key, everybody likes a bit of ‘glitz and glam’. From the editorial content to the advertisements, fashion magazine publishers need to start combining video, slideshows and audio to create a more interactive experience for their readers – one that free bloggers cannot afford to produce.

3. TRANSFORM the reader into a customer: While fashion magazines' main role is to promote the latest designs, they need to step in up a notch and sell what they preach. Online shopping is all the rage, with Amazon 1-click ordering leading the way. Magazines must seize this opportunity, and integrate the reading and buying experience to create the option for consumers to easily purchase products directly through the magazine’s tablet and smartphone apps – a move that would transform the leading fashion magazines from style makers to virtual retailers, recapturing the attention of the leading fashion houses.

To prevent fashion magazines from going 'out of fashion', they need to embrace the latest technological trends to out-style the bloggers.

Kathryn is currently a graduate student at Northwestern's Medill Integrated Marketing Communications, concentrating in Direct & Interactive Marketing and Media Management at the Kellogg School of Management. Upon completion of the program she is extremely interested in pursuing a career in the media industry, particularly in the digital strategy department of a major fashion magazine. Follow her @KatRubinGoodman and connect with her on LinkedIn: Kathryn Rubin Goodman.


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