Beauty editors appear to be an endangered species in the world of magazine media these days as advertising dollars have shifted from print to digital, video and social media via beauty influencers. Media companies operating magazines that cover beauty and wellness but are perhaps not beauty-centric have taken a scalpel to their mastheads and are looking to cut or combine beauty staff.
At Meredith Corp., WWD has learned that this has taken the form of the departure of Shape’s veteran executive beauty director Cheryl Kramer Kaye. A Shape spokeswoman said the health magazine is “committed to continuing beauty coverage,” and noted that Kate Sandoval Box remains in the role of beauty director.
The departure at Shape follows the exit at Condé Nast of W’s longtime executive beauty director Jane Larkworthy after a 16-year run there. W said it would continue to cover beauty via contributors.
Meanwhile, at Hearst, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen consolidated their beauty teams — and many others — last year as neither glossy fits the bill as a fashion or beauty destination. Currently, beauty coverage for those titles is run by executive beauty director Leah Wyar and fashion is overseen by Aya Kanai, executive fashion director.
At Hearst’s newly formed lifestyle group, which includes Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Woman’s Day, it is believed that there will be further consolidations among a few editorial departments, including beauty. There are rumors at Hearst that the fashion, entertainment and beauty departments of Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Woman’s Day will fold into one larger group.
A Hearst spokesperson did not address the speculation directly, but said, “We believe that collaboration is the key to creativity and innovation, and groups of talented, versatile editors can touch multiple brands. It’s been a tremendous success in our Design Group, and we now have a sizable beauty group to work on multiple brands, creating content that is specific to each of those brands.”
In order to pick up some beauty cred and ad dollars, Hearst tapped Linda Wells, Allure’s founding editor in chief, who was succeeded last year by Michelle Lee. For Hearst, Wells creates a beauty insert that is backed by advertising, although not sponsored content, which runs in the company’s select fashion-centric titles including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Town & Country.
Although every media company is different, 2016 had been a particularly difficult year for fashion and beauty advertising with Time Inc., Hearst and Condé Nast all cutting costs, jobs and restructuring their businesses. Part of the beauty pullback is also related to a larger trend, which has been evolving for years — namely the continued influence that the beauty blogger wields. As a result, several beauty conglomerates have made shifts in their advertising budgets with a larger-than-ever portion earmarked for digital strategy that includes paid search and content to influencer activation.
“The new celebrities are the social influencers, and quite honestly some make more money than the people who get Emmy Awards,” John Demsey, executive group president at Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., told WWD earlier this year. “If you can deliver an audience and prove that someone can buy your product, you can get paid. As long as that works it will continue to blossom.”