From the deluge of free information available on the Internet and 24-hour TV news channels to the advent of ubiquitous social-media vehicles like Facebook and Twitter, the media environment has grown increasingly crowded and frenetic. At the same time, the recent recession has caused many financially strapped advertisers to pull back, sending the number of ad pages sold by U.S. magazines plummeting by nearly 26% in 2009 alone.
Consumer Desire for Magazines Growing
Amid this chaos, one might think that magazine readers are abandoning print media in favor of other options. But in fact, the opposite is true: despite the flood of choices, magazine readership is actually stronger than ever before. What's more, magazine readers are an affluent audience.
In the past 10 years, while Internet usage has mushroomed, print magazine readership has grown by 13%.
Today's magazine readers have a median household income of more than $64,000-almost 60% higher than that of non-magazine readers.
Each quarter, dozens of promising new magazine titles are launched in a variety of categories, satisfying consumers' growing needs for information and entertainment.
The Secret to Success
How are successful magazines serving these consumers' needs in today's publishing environment? More often than not, the secret lies in a magazine's content and approach. The winners have brought new energy, relevance, and depth to their coverage and format, while those less fortunate have stagnated.
This has been particularly evident in business magazines. Paul Bascobert, President of Bloomberg Businessweek, points out that, "while the world is getting more and more complicated, the sources of information to unravel and explain this world have gotten more and more simplistic. And so we've moved from a world where you could rely on longer form, deeper analysis to places where the news is more headline-driven."
Strengthening Reader Engagement
What is needed, Bascobert contends, is a "reinvention of the business magazine"-a phrase that has become the watchword at Bloomberg Businessweek. "Bloomberg Businessweek is focusing on core business decisions in helping people to understand the layers and complexity of business. As a business decision maker, Bloomberg Businessweek will continue to be one of the few places you can go to understand industries, to understand companies, to understand what the trends are, and to understand how to take that information back to your own company to move your business forward."
The key to this reinvention, Bascobert says, is not just to provide business executives with an opportunity to read and learn, but literally to immerse them in the magazine's content and features. To this end, while other magazines are retrenching, Bloomberg Businessweek is investing. The 26 April relaunch issue will showcase the investments the title has made:
An expanded network of 1,700 journalists worldwide
Increased editorial pages by about 20%
Strengthened commitment to global coverage
Improved paper stock
A new business-focused lifestyle section
Increased frequency to 50 issues per year
The magazine's navigation and layout also will be streamlined to help readers more easily find what they want, keep them moving through the pages, and engage them with exciting, informative, and highly relevant stories that they'll want to read the moment the magazine arrives.
Unprecedented Relevance and Connection
At the same time, what won't change is Bloomberg Businessweek's commitment to superior content, essential insights, and unique perspectives-backed by the exclusive data and rigorous reporting that have been the publisher's hallmarks for decades.
All of this builds on Bascobert's ultimate goal: to give Bloomberg Businessweek an unprecedented degree of relevance and connection to today's business executive, and to give advertisers powerful new opportunities to engage this critical audience in ways that will inspire them to listen and respond.
Sources: MRI Fall 2000 and 2009 studies; MPA Handbook 2009/2010; Publisher's Information Bureau, January - December 2008-2009.
About the author
Kevin R. Hopkins is a veteran business strategist, writer, and communications professional with more than 30 years' experience in business, media, government, and non-profit environments. He is currently Vice President of Business Strategy at Nu Arts, Inc., an interactive agency in New York.
Read the press release from Bloomberg Businessweek on the launch
Find out more about the media coverage of the re-launch:
Bloomberg Businessweek to blitz The City to support revamp
Bloomberg Businessweek reveals tomorrow's new look
My Media Week: Jonathan Foster Kenny, Bloomberg Businessweek