Despite the buzz around video, digital ads and “partner” content, print revenue continues to garner the most sales at the top fashion magazines. And it could be argued, that from a business impact perspective, the influence of fashion and lifestyle magazines – even as the number of titles has declined – has never been greater.
For Vincenzo Di Sarli, president and founder of DMR Group, fashion and lifestyle magazine publishers are the “go-to” for any brand looking to make an impact in the market. Why? Because publishers play a key strategic role as content producers across all media – print, online and on social media.
“Publishers are the real professional intermediary between brands and consumers,” Di Sarli said.
Experience, and Authority
“What we can see today, in the media scenario is that historical publishers are leveraging their experience and authority also on websites and digital projects, thereby creating 360-degree exposure, which is pushing brands to re-think their communication strategy and media mix,” Di Sarli explained. “DMR Group supports brands to optimize their media investments in this complicated and multifaceted landscape.”
In the support role, the process starts with self-assessment of the brand. “If I’m a brand or fashion company, whether it’s luxury goods or beauty or accessories, I have to ask questions such as: What do I really need to do? How do I start?” Di Sarli explained. “If I’m thinking about programmatic or other types of media plans or a media strategy for the next year, you must ask relevant questions such as: What should I consider? Should I do an assessment? Who is my core customer?”
Di Sarli said if you’re a young company, social media is key. But even then, you need to consider the full market, where, when and how consumers are interfacing with brands and where to reach them for the greatest impact.
For its part, DMR Group helps fashion brands fine-tune their marketing efforts while also maximizing advertising investment dollars. DMR Group is powered by a proprietary methodology that tracks, monitors, and analyzes global print, web and social media content as well as print and web advertising. DMR Group is a “Data as a Service” company based in Italy with decades of industry experience.
Setting the right tone
That technology sets the foundation for brands to set a media strategy in place. But DMR Group said brands need to consider the fashion and lifestyle publisher. “Who better than magazine publishers to explain a product or collection in the right terms, and with the right tone and relevant comparisons?” Di Sarli said.
Di Sarli said magazine publishers position in the market as a professional intermediary between brands and consumers is unmatched.
DMR Group said larger brands can directly – or via the magazine publisher – set institutional communication, which has greater credibility, depth and a more lasting endurance in the market – creating that 360-degree field of influence in the market. Again, the DMR Group said it was important to note that social media is an important platform for all brands, but the magazine publisher is the professional authority.
That role of authority dates back to 1672 with the first fashion publication, titled: Mercure Galant. The publication was introduced in France, and served up commentary on clothing styles. As fashion commentary gained popularity, publications began featuring illustrations of the latest fads. But it wasn’t until the 1870s and 1880s that women’s lifestyle magazines fully gained prominence as printing costs dropped and literacy among households in Europe and abroad increased.
By the turn of the century there were over 30 women’s fashion and beauty magazines. The growth of the industry paralleled the expansion of department stores and fashion apparel that was more easily accessed. Images – at first illustrations, and then photographs – were always the centerpiece of the magazines, which touted trends in dresses, accessories, hats and handbags.
Cosmopolitan, founded in 1886 was an early leader with a fashion focus along with Harper’s Bazaar (launched in 18670. In 1892, Vogue set the mold for a higher form of fashion-forward insights. In 1905, fashion-focused Fujin Gaho launched in Japan. Vogue rolled out British Vogue in 1916 and then Vogue Paris in 1920. L’Officiel debuted in France, in 1921. Other early fashion magazine innovators included Grazia in Italy (1936) and Marie Claire in France (1937). Seventeen debuted in the U.S. in 1944 while Elle was unveiled in France a year later. Vogue Italia hit the newsstands in 1964, and W magazine in the U.S. in 1971.
Reaching new heights
Di Sarli said by the 1980s, the momentum of fashion brands in magazines reached new heights. “all the big fashion brands and all the beauty brands, grew their businesses with magazines,” he said adding that publishers wielded unparalleled influence over consumers.
But today, while many publishers eye new, emerging brands, they could do a much better job of embracing them into the global fashion family. Emerging brands are natural innovators, and Di Sarli urged publishers to work with them, perhaps offering sliding scales for ads and also collaborating on various projects. “In the end, helping these emerging brands helps everyone,” Di Sarli said.
DMR Group said because magazine publishers have the capacity to integrate print, digital and social, they can help propel the success of emerging brands. “To be inclusive will help the entire fashion eco-system, and the entire cluster of these emerging businesses,” Di Sarli added.
For a young brand, Di Sarli said companies should not see marketing communication from a cost-only perspective. “It needs to be seen as an investment,” he said. “And it requires well-thought-out planning. And considering use of all channels. You can spend all of your budget on social alone. That’s why working with a publisher as a media consultant is key. It starts with print, which aims to inform the community. That’s how the brand grows.”
DMR Group said to sustain this relationship and support the entire fashion eco-system, brands and publishers need to collaborate and create meaningful content that includes live activations for consumers. Pop-up shops, and other events. “And it must be centered on the consumer,” Di Sarli said. “Brands tend to forget that. They get absorbed in data and products and forget the consumer. Then they struggle and wonder what happened. They forgot the customer!”
The customer base
DMR Group said customers need to be nurtured too, “every day,” he said adding that product development, launches and communications, as well as store associates all, should align with the customer and be supported by the power and influence of professional publishers.
“And you must have a precise identity of that customer, because if you don’t have a precise identity, then it’s difficult to identify your customer base – and serve to serve them,” Di Sarli said. “You need to be very precise in defining your market position so you can define your client position, and then market and communicate with them in the right way and with a multi-channel approach.”
Print, coupled with online and social media content from professional publishers is where the true power of media can help a brand. “For fashion brands, this is a critical point,” Di Sarli said. “Professional publishers provide the platform to support the iconographic part of the fashion brand. It’s the images and narratives that help create this.”
The full scope of content across print, online and social also “creates an emotional connection between the brand and the customer,” Di Sarli noted. “And that is not something you can recreate elsewhere.”