Are media trends predicting the end of Fashion magazines?

Media trends show that Custom Media is the best alternative to low advertising returns in glossy magazines.

Once upon a time, magazines were one of the uber-cool answers to big fashion labels and mega brands. But all this came to a grinding halt with the arrival of the new medium, a.k.a. Social Media. It came quietly like the calm before the storm, and shook the entire world of traditional media.

I remember the time when Cosmo India launched an almost thousand page magazine for Diwali a couple of years ago. That was something really, but unfortunately for those who didn’t see that day, you indeed must fret. For it will not happen again.

A year ago, fashion publications were having the time of their lives. They were heavily sought-after by all brands, the new and the old, the big and the small. But today, after the wave of recession has receded and life seems to be crawling back to normalcy, magazine readers have almost completely forgotten that they once used to splurge on fashion magazines. They’ve moved on, and seem to believe that they don’t need a fashion magazine to tell them what’s hot or not anymore. Readers now have reputed blogs and websites that give them the same information. And what’s better here? Social Media sites and blogs are updated more frequently. And the icing on the cake, these are written by media fashionistas and they’re really genre specific!

Mercifully, there was just one really good reason to pick up a fashion magazine though. A reader needed a fashion magazine to check out the new arrivals and haute products that are hitting rodeo drive and a few other smaller drives in town. But that’s where we have the killer blow.

I came across a link in a tweet from a friend (you can find the link on my ‘twitter faves’ on the right). It’s good news for Custom Media, because surveys estimate that in the UK alone, custom media would be worth £1bn by 2013, and is projected at a growth rate of twenty two percent even with the global slowdown hovering over our heads. That’s a seriously high growth rate considering the rest of the fashionable publishing world is clinging on to a hope of mere survival in the near future!

Several leading labels like Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel), Acne Denim, Yves Saint Laurent and Forever 21 have already started publishing custom in-house magazines that are running successfully and showing favourable results to their brands. It’s a better alternative to traditional magazine advertising, considering the limited choices that advertisers have in terms of premium positioning. A Louis Vuitton Galliera wouldn’t really cringe if it’s printed adjacent to Megan Fox in her new Armani campaign, but what if it’s in a sticky spot next to Daisy Dee ling-a-ree? Bummer, right?

Big brands all over the world are asking themselves the same question too. Are ads in traditional print magazines worth the money, and is it good for power branding? The spanking new and easier solution? The all new In-house magazine shows the way…

So will the other brands flow suit and start their own publications to cater to their customers, or will they stick around with their traditional Inner Front Cover page advertisements with Miss Daisy Dee for company? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I believe that publishing an in-house magazine at least once every quarter is a fresh way to reach out to a specific audience, as long as it’s complimented with other niche social media campaigns. Better this than to lose potential customers in the battle for brand recollection with other competitive brands and better in-house magazines.

And hey, if it isn’t working, why is everyone else doing it?