Glossy mag readers embrace digital

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VogueReaders of women's glossy magazines see websites as a brand extension rather than as an alternative to print, according to a survey carried out by YouGov for Vogue magazine publisher Condé Nast. Some 82% of the 2,447 women interviewed said websites would not replace print.

The readers saw the print and digital offerings as distinct entities which offered different experiences. Some 82% of the 2.447 women interviewed said they did not believe websites would entirely replace print. Just 6% said they only read the print version of their favourite mag.

Vogue, Tatler. Marie Claire

The survey was carried out in May and early June and polled women between 20 and 54 who regularly read at least one of Vogue, Elle, Tatler, Marie Claire, Harpers, Vanity Fair, In Style and Grazia. It found the number of women using magazine websites had risen 40% in the past two years.

Vogue's publishing director Stephen Quinn said: "Where once it was imagined that digital might kill print, it has instead heightened the level of engagement the reader has with her magazine of choice." The survey found 77% of the women used magazine websites once a month, with 29% using them once a week.

Some 39% accessed the digital editions of their favourite mags regularly, while 22% accessed content via mobile apps. A hardcore readership of 7% looked at their preferred title's website every day. This demographic was also heavily connected to social media networks and keen to adopt new technology early.

Print and digital

The survey results provide a welcome route out of the increasingly tedious 'print versus digital' debate which the media industry is tying itself in knots over. Different methods of delivering content are not necessarily in competition, they can complement each other. What's important is the quality of what's being delivered.

I used to use the example of Vogue when I taught multimedia journalism at London colleges. The glossy, chunky magazine was a badge and an object of pleasure for readers who left it on their coffee tables and leafed through it while having a snack. That's a tactile experience that cannot be replicated online. And the photography in the print edition could be more lavish.

Add to the brand

The magazine's website added to the brand, rather than competed with it, providing material that could only come through the digital platform, such as video of the big fashion shows in the annual calendar. Ensuring Vogue's distinctive brand values came through wherever the brand is offered was key.

What's changed is that consumers want to access their favourite media brands in ways that they want to and at the time they want to, rather than in ways and times decided by those brands. So it's not a case of choosing one platform over another, but making sure the brand is available across all of them.

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