“International” seems to be one of the most popular words lately when describing the future of print magazines. Whether it’s in reference to China’s recent hunger for expensive fashion titles or the continually well-selling magazines in Condé Nast’s European portfolio, it’s clear that consumer demand for magazines abroad, unlike here in the U.S., is strong. The same goes for the all-important advertisers, whose investments each month determine how thick an issue will be. And lately foreign issues have been fat.
Though editors at these titles might like to tip their hats toward content as the primary driver of their magazines’ success, this likely isn’t the case. In China, for example, the growing contingent of the young and rich happy to spend rather than save drives much of their demand, with magazines such as Vogue and ELLE increasingly serving not as aspirational entertainment but rather catalogues for future shopping trips for luxury label-seeking millennials. In our recently released Digital IQ Index: Magazines report, in which we analyzed and ranked the digital competence of 80 U.S. magazine titles, one of the most interesting findings identified magazines with European editions that maintain localized Facebook and Twitter accounts for the continent’s six most social media-involved countries (U.K., France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain).
Among the 80, just six fit this description: Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Glamour, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and Vogue. Not surprisingly, almost all of these brands consistently rank in the top five for total Facebook “likes.”
The same trend appeared in the magazines’ Twitter numbers:
Social media following is an influential measure of a brand’s health and future prospects. Without “likes” and followers, a brand can still be considered successful but only to a point. Particularly when the industry has a youth-heavy consumer base like magazines has. It’s clear from our research that for many titles, building up a magazine’s international popularity is a critical node in the survival strategy. That most foreign editions are stand-alone books with no editorial ties to their U.S. counterparts and yet still link to these international editions from the U.S. main site is evidence of this.