Social Secretary Sorcha Hornett discusses the fall of the magazine industry as more and more magazines switch to being online
Last year saw the fall of Cosmopolitan Australia and Look Magazine, who both announced they will stop printing. This joins the closure of NME, and Glamour announcing they will only print twice a year, making the threat of digital media bigger than ever. The outlook for the UK magazine market is looking bleak as sales and advertising figures of the top 100 magazines in the UK have declined by more than half since 2000, according to The Guardian. Unfortunately, the future isn’t looking bright for the magazine print industry, and with many companies deciding to halt print altogether, I fear it may not be long until we turn completely digital.
This doesn’t mean the end of journalism, but it means the industry is evolving and having to change with the times. It may be fair to say millennials are to blame: they want digital and they want it at the touch of a fingertip; gone are the generation that buy printed newspapers and magazines – items that cannot be delivered straight to millennial’s doors and are not easily accessible online unless purchasing a subscription.
The only way to survive is for a magazine to build a brand beyond the publication. For example, Harper’s Bazaar run events that sell out in hours, and DFS sell a range of House Beautiful and Country Living sofas – but brands also have to branch out onto more forms of media. Cosmopolitan have their daily snapchat story, which runs featured ads and are watched by millions, they do sponsored Facebook and Instagram posts, while still doing advertisements in their print edition. They have to cover all their bases if they want any chance at surviving the declining world of print.
Gossip magazines, like Heat and Look, are struggling because that kind of writing doesn’t require any in-depth analysis and, also considering the brevity of the articles, they are better suited to online. Once gossip is out there, it’s quickly shared on social media and then everyone moves on: millennials don’t need to wait a week to read it in a print magazine, when that’s already considered old news. They can satisfy their thirst for gossip online for free, instead of having to spend money on a print magazine. Magazines that have longer, in-depth articles, exclusive interviews and bring something more to the table will be the ones that survive.
As someone that still buys magazines, I know they won’t be around forever. For me, and probably many others, they are something I treat myself to and not something I buy all the time, hence why I wouldn’t purchase a subscription. This mentality is what has seen the decline of magazines – they’re only something people will buy if they have disposable income. People know they can find most of the articles in print online, so they’ll only buy magazines if they really want to. The drop in advertising is also another reason as to why the industry is in decline, with many brands choosing to advertise on Facebook and Google instead. Without advertising, magazines are struggling to make revenue, and with sales down as well, they struggle to continue on.
In the next year, we will see more and more print magazines turn to online and attempt to establish themselves as online brands. Alternatively, we’ll see them cut down print editions, like Glamour has already this year. Magazines will try and establish themselves as brands beyond just a magazine, and advertising will increase across their social media and online websites. The magazine industry is evolving, and I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually there were no more magazines being sold in stores, which will definitely happen some point in the near future.