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Everything old is new again in media land

Amber Daines | 6 March, 2024

With the news that ‘glossy magazine’ ELLE Australia is returning to print runs again, it seems that sometimes big-time business models like fashion seem to go through cycles and return decades on. (I can barely believe my kids in 90s fashion staples I wore back in the day, like Nike hi-tops and baggy cargoes).

This week, the publishers Are Media unveiled the first issue of the new ELLE Australia magazine, led by Editor Grace O’Neill. The 244-page autumn/winter edition features actor Sophie Wilde on the cover and is aimed towards Gen Z and millennial women. While the digital version remains a core offering, Are Media will publish two editions of ELLE Australia this year: today’s Bright Young Things issue and a spring/summer edition in September. The magazine will expand to four editions in 2025. Is this a sign of the times?

The death of magazines was a big deal for the past two decades as readership consumption and expectations evolved and ESG concerns about paper and resources needed for producing fancy printed publications (and, to be honest, bolstering bottom-line sales revenues) became the death knell for many of my once-time stable reading options.

Yet scarcity is at play here. A magazine in the world seems glamorous again because, like the actual post itself, it is not the mainstream way we do things in 2024. I was keen to understand why this return to what we did for most of the 20th century was back in vogue. Here goes.

The return of ‘old school’ print magazines to print can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Reader Preferences: Despite the digital revolution, many readers still enjoy the tactile experience of flipping through physical pages. Print offers a unique sensory experience that digital formats cannot replicate.
  2. Niche Audiences: Certain niche markets prefer print magazines because they provide curated content tailored to specific interests. These readers appreciate print magazines’ in-depth articles, high-quality imagery, and specialized content.
  3. Tangible Value: Print magazines have a value that digital content often lacks. Readers perceive print magazines as collectibles or keepsakes and are often willing to pay a premium for them.
  4. Digital Fatigue: In an age of constant digital stimulation, many seek respite from screens. Print magazines offer a break from the constant bombardment of digital content and provide a more focused, immersive reading experience.
  5. Brand Loyalty: Established magazines with strong brand recognition and loyal readership can successfully leverage their brand equity to maintain a presence in the print market. Readers trust these brands and are willing to continue purchasing their print editions.
  6. Advertising Revenue: Print magazines still attract advertising revenue, primarily from luxury brands and companies targeting specific demographics. Advertisers recognize the value of print advertising in reaching engaged, targeted audiences.
  7. Digital Integration: Many print magazines now offer digital editions or companion websites, creating a synergistic relationship between print and digital platforms. This allows publishers to reach a broader audience while catering to print enthusiasts.

While digital media continues to dominate the landscape, print magazines have proven resilient, finding ways to adapt and thrive in a changing media landscape. As a one-time newspaper journalist, I love print and am pleased that a new generation will embrace it once more.

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