If Nicholas Coleridge’s 18-year old son would seek his advice to pursue a career in the magazine business, Coleridge’s reply would be an emphatic yes. The Managing Director of Conde Nast, which owns titles such as Vogue, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller and others, made his belief in the magazine business in its print form very clear at the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress.
Coleridge began with busting magazine myths, recollecting conversations of similar forums of the past that had sounded the death knell for the magazine industry. He recalled, “A Henley Centre guru had put us on notice, saying that no one would want to read magazines, technology would take over and all such reasons and more heralded the end of magazines. That was in the 80s, and since then, while I have had a very enjoyable experience at Hearst and now Conde Nast, the warning rang in my ears for several years.”
Citing examples from Conde Nast that has seen 59 launches of different titles across various markets since 2011, Coleridge observed that the industry was engaged in “some sort of structural design around myths”. He informed, “53 per cent of these launches are new launches from us and not just acquisitions. We had 22 launches in 2008 alone and we are in the process of launching four more in the next few months. We are seeing some very significant growth in our circulation, which is more than the apps and iPad versions though we are doing those with gusto too.”
Conde Nast has been able to follow its wholly-owned model in most markets, including India, and Coleridge is very optimistic on the future, as there is still “room for growth amongst well established and vintage brands”. He took the audience through the success story of Vogue that would celebrate 100 years in four years’ time and Tatler that is over 200 years old.
He said, “We audit our titles and we have made the same offer to our competitors and the market understand and rewards us.”
He also added, “We are as committed as everyone else in extending the brands, and we are publishing 100 websites, tweeting, blogging, Zinio, but we have never forgotten that it is the print version that lies at the heart of the business. Print is natural medium for some of the greatest photographers and no other medium can replicate the experience that print offers. Well over 85 per cent of Vogue readers, and this includes some very young readers, see print as the preferred medium to receive their information.”
Magazines are enduring as they are tactile, easily portable brands that can be stressed and extended in editorial. “If my 18-year son wants to pursue a career in magazine, I would advise him for it. The world he would be entering would be very different from the magazine world I entered – it would be more complex, less predictable and very thrilling. But let me tell you, we ain’t seen nothing yet.”