Cosmopolitan is changing up its print plans.
Beginning this year, the Hearst-owned publication will print eight-themed issues, each dedicated to a different subject and numbered rather than tied to a specific month. In 2019, it published 12 issues, then 10 in 2020 when the pandemic began, and nine in 2021.
“We are calling it the ‘2022 collection’ and we really wanted to make something that does feel collectible and that you want to live on your coffee table instead of putting it into your recycle pile. So the visuals are really rich and lush and edgy and sophisticated,” Jessica Pels, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, told WWD.
The first issue, “Issue 1: The Love Issue,” will explore the widening scope of how love is defined, thought about and experienced and the theme will be woven throughout the issue pages. Its cover face is actress Sydney Sweeney, who is in the middle of a plot line on HBO’s “Euphoria” about her character Cassie’s obsession with love. Music and travel will be among other themes this year, although some of the themes will change annually.
The themed magazines will have somewhat of a new look, too — new, up-and-coming voices, contributors, photographers and illustrators and bigger in size with immersive flowcodes, which Pels believes will help the magazine decipher what readers are interested in. There will also be merch, beginning with a sweater collection in collaboration with denim brand Mother.
“We are really responsive to reader demands and to how our readers live their lives. And because we engage with our readers on every single platform we can have a good sense of how they spend their time and so we will always serve them what they want where they want it and for now for print what that means is a thicker, more special, more escapist experience,” Pels said of Cosmopolitan shrinking its print frequency. “I feel like doing fewer issues isn’t about fewer touchpoints. It’s about making the print touchpoint a richer, more meaningful and ultimately longer lasting one.”
Cosmopolitan is far from being alone in reducing its print frequency. Among others, Marie Claire, which Hearst sold to Future, is now publishing just two print issues a year, while WSJ., the luxury fashion and culture insert of The Wall Street Journal, cut frequency from 12 issues to eight in 2021 with a renewed focus on digital platforms. And other titles, like W, also have taken the “collectible” route, proclaiming they are more than just a magazine and boosting their cover prices as a result.
This is not the only big change Cosmopolitan has made in recent years. In 2020, it launched digital subscription Cosmo Unlocked, a package including unlimited digital access priced at $3 a month. For $20 a year, readers get the website, print magazine and newsletter. Similar programs have been rolled out at Hearst’s Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health and Bicycling, while Runner’s World has had one since 2019 as the publisher looks to become less reliant on advertising dollars.
According to data from the Alliance for Audited Media, Cosmopolitan’s total audience was down 19 percent in the first nine months of the 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier. Print and digital editions were down 25 percent, but video was up almost 20 percent. Data provided to WWD by Cosmopolitan showed that site traffic was up 31 percent in 2021.
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