Glamour's print mag demise is sad but it can thrive in the digital space
A view from Jo Blake

Glamour's print mag demise is sad but it can thrive in the digital space

While no-one wants to see print magazines close, Glamour's transformation to a digital-first beauty brand shows that titles can adapt and thrive, says Jo Blake, head of Adcity, Havas Media Group.

The closure of Glamour is, for me, tinged with sadness. As a teenager I looked forward to getting Smash Hits through my door every fortnight, with its in-jokes and incredible, need-to-know insights into Spandau Ballet and Japan; magazines have always been a big part of my life.

Admittedly, my tastes have now moved on somewhat but I still feel excited when I open a copy of Red, hoping I’ll find an inspiring article, or a fabulous pair of must-have boots the fashion editor is tipping.

And yet as I have moved on, so has the magazine marketplace. Magazines are having to constantly prove their worth. And for the younger generation, paying up to £4 a time when they can access endless similar articles and information online for free just doesn’t make sense, as we’ve seen from ongoing circulation declines.

The monthlies that attract a younger demographic are in real trouble, with the print element failing to attract and maintain their distracted audience

Glamour was once the tenth biggest selling magazine in the UK, and was considered pioneering when it launched with a handbag-sized magazine in 2001. At its peak it sold over 600,000 copies, but since 2016 circulation has fallen to just over 260,000. With the total women’s print market declining by 6%, it is the high end fashion titles that are maintaining revenue and stemming circulation declines.  Both Vogue and Sunday Times Style produced their biggest editions last year, but the monthlies that attract a younger demographic are in real trouble, with the print element failing to attract and maintain their distracted audience.

Glamour has ultimately suffered at the hands of Hearst’s radical distribution and cover price change for Cosmopolitan in the second half of 2015. This game-changing, dynamic move saw Cosmo’s sales rise by 140,000 to more than 400,000. Glamour just could not compete.

Great beauty credentials

So, to the future. Its long-standing editor Jo Elvin has stepped down but Glamour is positioning itself as a digital first, beauty-focused brand. The production of bi-annual specials in print will be the only physical iteration of the Glamour brand which will otherwise live online, currently reaching a respectable eight million across all platforms.

The title will have a new look beauty focus, offer product sampling and produce live TV shows on social platforms. Glamour is not without focus - earlier this year it launched its "Beauty Club", which has already hit 50,000 members, while the "Beauty Festival" event attracts top influencers, celebrities and speakers. So the focus on beauty as a strategy bodes well for the title.

While I feel sad at the demise of any magazine, I do not think this is another nail in the coffin for a fantastic sector, more it is an indication that titles are showing their adaptability in the face of growing competition from new media. Glamour is a great brand, has a massive digital footprint and has already got great beauty credentials.

The team have clearly identified an opportunity and have set in place a range of access routes that will appeal to the young women they have always existed to serve. There is undoubtedly still a market – and an appetite - for the brand and I commend them for their bravery in not holding on to a formula that, thanks to forces outside their control, is no longer as viable or effective as it once was.   

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