LIVING ON A LUXURY PRAYER: Are you rolling in cash these days? Magazine publishers seem to think so. It’s only March and four luxury titles have revealed they will launch (or relaunch) to tell the tales of billionaire bachelors, fine Parisian restaurants and the latest antiaging skin procedures.
In February, Bloomberg Pursuits was introduced to 310,000 subscribers of the Bloomberg Professional service, who pay $20,000 a year to use the Bloomberg Terminal. The average household income of the Bloomberg Pursuits reader is $452,000 and 90 percent are male. That first issue carried 30 ad pages, from the likes of Hermès, Chanel and NetJets and included a story about a Bloomberg subscriber who travels to Antarctica on an icebreaker to witness a solar eclipse.
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Jason Binn, founder of Niche Media and now a chief adviser to Gilt Groupe, will publish Du Jour magazine in September. If you have a net worth of more than $5 million and average home value of $1.5 million, the title may land in your mailbox this fall. When Binn spoke with WWD last month, he said the “superluxurious content” in the quarterly print title will also appear online, where those $4,700 clutches are just a click away.
Last week, Time magazine dusted off its old luxury title Time Style & Design and brought it back following a three-year suspension. Harry Winston and Bulgari are just a few of the advertisers in the magazine, which is being delivered to only 500,000 affluent subscribers who aren’t put off by phrases such as “price upon request.” The cover features a close-up shot of actress Emily Blunt wearing a black hat and bright pink lipstick. Inside, there are pieces about Nick Cave, a profile of Christian Louboutin and a look at the contemporary arts scene in Turkey.
Now ForbesLife is stepping up its game. The magazine has undergone a redesign under Robert Priest. It will be polybagged for subscribers and, for the first time, will be sold on newsstands, beginning this week. The issue is about as over-the-top as they come, including a cover story with Elon Musk; a piece written by Warren Buffett, and mentions of the Bottega Veneta Suite at the St. Regis in Florence and extreme skiing in British Columbia. There’s also the story of how one billionaire’s want for an “unfettered place to smoke cigars” evolved into a $27 million palace on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “We’re taking advantage of our access,” said editor Randall Lane. “That’s what makes us different. We have access to the most interesting, most powerful people in the world.”
With all these launches, all of a sudden the market for luxury magazines has become crowded again. The question is: can they all survive in a still-uncertain economy?
If titles such as W and Departures are any indicator, perhaps. Year-to-date, W is up 63 ad pages, or 20 percent, which represents the biggest page and percentage increase in the magazine’s history. Departures kicked off the year with a 22 percent rise in revenue and 10 percent hike in paging during the first quarter, said a spokeswoman. This follows a 45 percent increase in revenues and 43 percent increase in ad paging last year.
These titles are benefiting from the fact that during the past few years, the American middle-class has virtually disappeared. As middle-income consumers get pushed to the bottom of the hourglass, the brands succeeding are those that target low-end and high-end consumers. “Whether it’s at Wal-Mart or Chanel, these are the only two groups spending money,” said W publisher Nina Lawrence.
For now, at least.