As many people now know, magazines are no longer magazines, but rather a brand – something bigger than just a print product – incorporating everything from activations, events and digital. And it’s this kind of approach, along with a healthy dose of passion, that Bauer Media’s specialist publisher of the homes category, Cornelia Schulze, advocates strongly.
Following the recent AMAA results, which showed a serious plummet in circulation figures for almost every Aussie magazine title, the homes category scraped by with lower declines than women’s, men’s and celebrity publications.
Bauer Media’s collection of homemaker titles, Homes+, Australian House & Garden, Belle and Real Living, saw drops of 20.2 per cent, 7.8 per cent, 1.8 per cent and 12.1 per cent, respectively.
In rival categories, Pacific Magazines’ Better Homes & Gardens is one of just two non-weekly ABC-audited titles that report a circulation greater than 100,000, while NewsLifeMedia’s Vogue Living grew marginally to 42,986.
Asked why this category seems to remain more relevant than other categories, Schulze said, “The home and real estate are definitely part of the Australian DNA. We all want our home to be our castle. Research has shown that it’s of huge importance to Australians to create that cosy haven, to really have a place to literally come home to.
“Magazines have become so much more,” Schulze told B&T. “The magazine brand in our philosophy is at the core of a number of offerings, with which we’re trying to touch our readers on a 360 basis.”
Schulze said her golden rule for taking print content into the digital world is to consider what each channel is used for, with magazines more aligned with inspiration, and online focused on activation.
“The key is to find the right way of communicating for the respective channel. In some of our research, we’ve found that by comparison, inspiration is four times more important in a magazine, and activation is four times more important in the digital space.
“That’s quite a nice rule of thumb because for online, yes the content needs to be beautiful, but it also has to be more search and utility driven than it is in a magazine.
Suggesting homes titles are adopting an almost catalogue-like approach, Schulze recited that 91 per cent of people buying in the homemaker’s category do research prior to research, as well as revealing House & Garden will soon be sold in Myers stores from October, “so you can buy the bed linen and the decorating items, but you can also buy the magazine”, she said.
“That’s what it’s all about; bringing things together and making it more tangible, funnily enough as the world becomes more virtual.
“At the same time, 24 per cent of people buy something from a brand they were thinking of initially. Only eight per cent go beyond that initial consideration set. So for our customers and advertisers, it’s super important to be in that initial set, and that’s where magazines come in,” Schulze added.
“Magazines are about the re-discovery of discovery; things you didn’t even know you were searching for – inspiration, immersion and huge levels of trust and authenticity.”
“Three per cent of purchases on Amazon are unplanned purchases. Everything else is knowing what you want and getting in it. In a bookstore, 50 per cent of the purchases are unplanned. And in that case, I would compare the magazine to a bookstore.
“You don’t exactly know what you’re going to find, but you’re looking forward to it. And you’re willing to immerse yourself in it. It’s about finding the unexpected.”
Schulze mentioned the My Ideal House project, which began as a design program but now will actually see a real house built from the ground up.
“That is a huge project– we’re actually building that home,” she told B&T. “We’re in the middle of the DA approval process. So we’re really going through it every step of the way.
“It’s a great proposition for our advertising clients, and it allows us to create other forms of content that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to, such as how-to videos.
“It’s the kind of project that you’ll continue to see from Bauer as an innovative media and publishing company. It’s not just about the magazine anymore – the magazine is the foundation, the basis, the core – but it goes beyond that.
“I’m not going to tell my fellow publishers what to do, but I do feel that bringing a brand to life is the way to go.”
Coming up for Bauer’s home category, Belle is set to launch its first ever Chinese edition, which will hits the newsstands at the end of September off the back of the launch of Harper’s BAZAAR and the inaugural Australian Gourmet Traveller Chinese New Year editions in February.