At home with affluence: A new luxe shelter supplement is set to make an entrance

DEPARTURES HOME + DESIGN, a new shelter supplement, will debut with the May/June issue of DEPARTURES* magazine.

The new glossy is “dedicated to the celebration of material comforts and the art of living.”  Editorial content will cover architecture, design, home furnishings, artwork and entertaining.

Editor-in-Chief Richard Story, richard.story@aexp.com and @MrDepartures, says the offshoot was “created for readers who are the ultimate luxury design enthusiasts.” With a closed circulation of 500,000, the publication will be polybagged alongside Departures, and distributed to American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders in targeted cities.

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50 shades of merchandising: A new glossy bets on a phenomenon

It could be a sign of the apocalypse, or maybe just the decline of civilization as we know it.

That seemed to be the initial reaction this week when we tweeted about the new magazine, FIFTY SHADES OF AMERICAN WOMEN WHO LOVE THE BOOK AND LIVE THE LIFE.

Yes, it’s an impossibly long title (especially for Twitter), so in the interest of brevity, we simply called it Fifty Shades of American Women.

And, no, it’s not a hoax; it’s now on newsstands at Barnes & Noble, Walmart and Target.

Retweets of the news by our Twitter followers included gems like, “Come, come nuclear bomb,” “WTF,” and “Oh dear God, no.”  A more optimistic follower offered, “Imagine the how-to articles!”

For those of you who just returned from an extended stay on the International Space Station, or were recently rescued from a deserted island in the Pacific, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is the first book in a trilogy written by British author E.L. James, and published in 2011.

The racy ‘romance/erotica’ book series quickly gained a rabid audience, and tapped a demographic goldmine of over-30, married women.  More than 40 million copies have been sold worldwide.  Firmly planted on The New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks, the books have been the financial salvation of publisher Vintage and its parent, Random House.  Could the merchandising be far behind?

Fifty Shades of American Women, published by Topix Media Lab, has received some surprisingly kind reviews so far.  Some have likened the magazine to COSMOPOLITAN*.  While the cover boasts the kind of “tips” you might expect, it also contains cocktail recipes, book reviews, interviews with real men who have read the books, and articles about related cultural issues.

Can you base a magazine on a passing fad?  We’ll see.  Plenty of industry soothsayers probably thought it was folly to base a magazine on a TV show, like Oprah, or a network, like HGTV. So we might be foolish to scoff at the potential of a phenomenon.

Luxe launches are a metaphor for the economy

Mirrors, windows, crystal balls.

These are all metaphors that have been used to describe magazines and how they provide a glimpse into the culture and society of our times.  That’s one reason people save or collect print issues.

But the business of magazines can be a reflection as well.

At a time when so many print magazines are ceasing entirely, or shifting to digital-only to stay alive, one category continues to launch glossies with confidence.

They have names like DU JOUR* and BLOOMBERG PURSUITS*.  Many specifically target well-heeled New Yorkers, like NEW YORK SMASH/HAMPTONS SMASH, and some serve affluent readers in other locales, like THE SOCIETY DIARIES in Texas, or the soon-to-launch NS: MODERN LUXURY FOR THE NORTH SHORE in Chicago.

All of these titles share one important characteristic: they appeal to both wealthy readers and high-end advertisers.

The trend also extends to a number of new or recently resurrected shelter and fashion titles, such as DESIGN HUNTING, TIME STYLE & DESIGN* and ELLE ACCESSORIES, which are riding the wave of luxe lifestyle magazine launches.

It’s not difficult to draw a parallel between the current economy and the current state of the magazine industry.  While Sak’s and Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are holding up well, Walmart and Target are lagging.  Top financial earners have weathered the economic storm and are in good shape; for others the recovery has been elusive.

And if we’re judging the health of the economy—and by extension, the middle-class—by magazine launches, then we’ll have cause to celebrate if we begin to see new titles targeting readers with average incomes.

Which print magazines will survive? Millennials may provide a clue

The American print magazine audience is graying.

At least, that’s the conventional wisdom.  Only people old enough to remember the Cold War or the first lunar landing still bother with print magazines, right?

Not so fast.

A new analysis of historical data from consumer market research firm GfK MRI shows that people aged 18-24 actually read more print magazines now than they did 10 or 20 years ago.  It just depends on what kind.

Fashion and beauty titles have held up well with millennials, and the celebrity category doubled among people of that age group.  INSTYLE*, a hybrid of fashion and celebrity, has fared especially well.  Magazines targeting foodies are a hit with young adults, as are travel and luxury lifestyle glossies.  Twenty-something men gravitate to GQ* and MAXIM*, and are responsible for much of the growth in fitness titles like MEN’S HEALTH*.

In contrast, magazines with broad appeal, like READER’S DIGEST* and TV GUIDE*, have lost out with young adults.  So have women’s service titles such as LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL*, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING* and REDBOOK*, which traditionally assumed women were taking care of a home and raising children.  Newsweeklies aren’t popular with this demographic either, and are increasingly considered quaint relics in our 24/7 digital/news cycle.

Shelter publications, which saw a surge of younger readers early in the last decade, lost many of them due to the housing crisis and recession.  Reading about decorating your first home or apartment is depressing, and pointless, if you’re an adult who is living with your parents out of economic necessity.

Mining through the data, the results say as much about our evolving lifestyles as they do about demographics.  They may also be a sign of which brands will survive and which ones face extinction.

Playing it safe in the quest for dollars

Call it the ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ syndrome.

In tough times, when media creatives want to play it safe, instead of developing something new for public consumption, they go back to known quantities, recycling successful talent and ideas from the past.

That’s how we ended up this year with Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars, Madonna performing at the Super Bowl and Mick Jagger closing out the latest season of Saturday Night Live.  Sure, you may have seen it before, but you know what you’re getting.

So it came as no surprise this week when two publishers announced they would bring back previously shuttered men’s magazines.

Rodale intends to reintroduce BEST LIFE* magazine this fall as a special interest publication – often code for test issue.  Since ceasing print as a victim of the recession in 2009, it has lived on as a front-of-book section in the pages of MEN’S HEALTH*.  Covering topics like style, wealth (a clue to the target market), travel and fatherhood, the new edition is scheduled to drop on October 23.

In a more unusual move, Conde Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Media is resurrecting M MAGAZINE from the grave, 20 years after it succumbed.  Formerly known as M: THE CIVILIZED MAN, the quarterly is aimed at “guys in their thirties and forties,” and touted by some as a cross between WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY* and STYLE.COM*.  Fairchild plans a modest initial circulation of 100,000 beginning in September.

But this isn’t about nostalgia, and the testosterone target isn’t the only thing these two publications have in common.

Both titles are going after affluent readers and luxury advertisers, at a time when magazines like HAMPTONS* are seeing renewed strength. A host of new offerings such as DU JOUR* and BLOOMBERG PURSUITS* are designed to appeal to an affluent audience at a time when top-tier incomes are holding up well in an otherwise flat economy.

Nautical niche: A new bimonthly magazine for yacht brokers

PROFESSIONAL YACHT BROKER MAGAZINE launched in early February, exclusively targeting yacht brokers, large boat dealerships and yacht builders.

Editorial content includes information about yacht broker training programs, legal issues, marketing strategies, digital and social media platforms and more.

The bimonthly publication has an initial circulation of 7,500, distributed to yacht brokers across North America, Europe and the Pacific Basin.  The publisher and editor is Jim Ramsey.  For additional information email info@professionalyachtbroker.org.   View the magazine at www.professionalyachtbroker.org.

Pride in print: A new LGBT magazine premieres in the Pacific Northwest

PQ MONTHLY, a magazine for the LGBT community in the Pacific Northwest, debuted on February 14 in Portland, Oregon.

Focused on arts & culture, local activities, equal rights issues, education and other lifestyle topics, the new publication also offers interviews and profiles, news briefs and regular columns.

PQ Monthly fills the void left by the demise of long-running Northwest LGBT magazine, JUST OUT, which ceased in December 2011.   Print copies of PQ Monthly are available for free at over 100 locations throughout Portland.  The editor-in-chief is Julie Cortez, julie@pqmonthly.com.  For more information, and to view a digital version, visit www.pqmonthly.com.