This week, Adweek revealed that after much speculation,Lucky would be transforming into a quarterly publication in September. It’s not necessarily surprising to anyone who’s been following the brand’s trajectory over the past few years, and especially since Condé Nast sold a stake of the brand to BeachMint—a commerce company—last year. The news could be interpreted as the brand phasing out its print magazine, but it’s not that simple. The Lucky Group’s holistic strategy makes sense and here’s why.
Lucky contends in an extremely competitive set—whether they’d like to admit it or not. Look around; there are a lot of big players in the fashion space (listing them would be trite). So Lucky, with its new content and commerce model, has to find a way to stand out. The idea is to leverage its print quarterly as a storefront while simultaneously making its website the core destination for products and content. It’s not dissimilar to Net-A-Porter’s model. Essentially, the print magazine is a seasonal catalogue or fashionistas, with a mission to engage consumers through content and then drive them to make purchases online. And it’s also advantageous that fashion is seasonal.
To make the experience worthwhile for readers, Lucky will take a page out of the playbook of many quarterly publications or brands that have robust SIP programs. That is, create a book that someone would want sitting on their coffee table or be seen reading on the subway—thick, heavy stock, larger trim (in some instances), beautiful, full-bleed images, etc. It’s also important to note that readers aren’t the only ones who like this format, so do advertisers.
There’s something else to consider; print is expensive and time consuming. Cutting back frequency will free up resources that can be reallocated to capturing digital revenue. What’s more, less print means more flexibility for its editorial team, so they can be more reactive in an age of short attention spans and mobile proliferation.
All that said, this shouldn’t be considered another nail in print’s coffin, on the contrary. Print is still viable, but this is more evidence that magazine brands need to think about it and use it differently. Print is a lean-back experience, but it has no push or discovery mechanism. You can tear pages out of a magazine, which makes it a mobile/analogue hybrid, but cataloguing it is much harder. Print advertising still has very high recall rates, which indicates the potential to drive commerce if you have the infrastructure to house it, but it can’t provide real-time data and educate brands on how to push someone through a funnel. In other words, print is good, but not good enough. The same goes for digital, but merging them together could create the perfect antidote (see:Allrecipes, C|Net magazine, Style.com/Print, The Pitchfork Review and other Web-to-print launches).
While Lucky’s model still needs to prove its worth, there is reason to believe that it could work, and we could see other magazine brands experiment similarly.