With the web and social media constantly expanding, the way in which we consume information is continually changing. News stories and articles are becoming more and more accessible, reaching us faster than ever before.
Whilst this seems like a good thing, there are increased concerns over the way in which the printed fashion magazine is being ousted by technology. When you compare the statistics it is evident the printed magazine is struggling; Grazia magazine sales have reportedly fallen in the last year by 20%, whilst ELLEUK.com has experienced a 58% rise year on year of unique users. It is not difficult to see why this change is occurring; updates in technology means users can access breaking news stories instantaneously and on the go, aided by the increased use of smart phones and tablets. Moreover, it’s free. Whilst the cost of a monthly magazine such as ELLE or Vogue retails at around £4.00, similar stories and articles can be found online without costing a penny. In a time of austerity, it is these small luxuries that consumers can live without. In addition, the fashion blog is becoming something of a phenomenon, allowing bloggers to display their own style and creativity in an industry that is notoriously competitive and difficult to break in to. All of this is contributing to the demise of magazine sales and prompts us to ask the question, is there still room for a printed fashion magazine?
Despite the reduced number of sales, fashion magazines are purchased each month in vast quantities; British Vogue reportedly sells an average of around 200,000 copies per month. The traditional printed fashion magazine, then, is still extremely popular. We may live in a world where technology is advancing at an incredible speed and where social media follows us wherever we go, but surely there are moments where the portability, the tangible reality of a printed magazine is preferable. A magazine, after all, will not run out of battery or experience technological system failure. Similarly, it can be argued that the experience of sitting down to read a magazine article cannot be replicated by putting that article online, in the same way it cannot be for books. The process of reading becomes somewhat less enjoyable, less relaxing. It seems that the demand for a printed fashion magazine is still there, it is just that the magazine industry now faces competition from online rivals in addition to the competitors in shares shelf space with. Therefore, perhaps the question we should be asking is what can fashion magazines do to increase sales?
The answer may be to use the very competition that is causing its loss of readership. Take the example of Elle UK; in March 2012 they conducted the first live digital streaming of a cover shoot via Twitter for the June issue featuring Kristen Stewart. By unveiling tantalizing snippets of information, they generated a buzz that caused the magazine to be the world’s number one trending topic of the day, but more importantly, subscriptions of the print magazine reportedly doubled ahead of the issue’s release. This example proves that there is room for a printed fashion magazine, however those within the industry must become more astute and innovative in the way that they market their product to allow magazines to survive in this age of social media and the internet.