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“We took the word ‘publications’ off the building”: Condé Nast enters new industries

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“We took the word ‘publications’ off the building”: Condé Nast enters new industries

In the past few weeks, the Vogue publisher announced video channels, investments in e-commerce and a clothing line. Yesterday, the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design held its inaugural classes. Next year, GQ and Vogue bars will serve cocktails in Bangkok.

“We don’t consider ourselves only a magazine publisher,” Chief Integration Officer Drew Schutte told Nieman Lab in 2011.

“A year or so ago we took the word ‘publications’ off the building and took it off of our business cards,” he added. “There was this final commitment to the fact that we are a company that makes quality content ... and we’re going to put that on whatever medium it makes sense.”

This strategy seems to be working: last year the magazine industry saw an 8.2 percent decline in sales, but Condé Nast’s pre-tax profits were up 14 percent.

Condé Nast’s London-based school opened its doors to 45 students this week for its 10-week Vogue Fashion Certificate. Another 45 will embark on the year-long Vogue Fashion Diploma in October, Women’s Wear Daily reported. The school retains ties to its magazines, with president Susie Forbes a former deputy editor of British Vogue.

“Condé Nast is well placed to enter the field of education, with the considerable authority and expertise vested in the Vogue brand,” Condé Nast International President Nicholas Coleridge said in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily.

The school can accommodate up to 300 students, with tuition at £6,660 for the certificate and £19,560 for the diploma.

Customers are also dining in Condé Nast-branded bars and cafes, though at the GQ Bar in Istanbul, "the only identifiable sign of the publication was the name," Suleman Anaya reported. In Moscow there's a GQ Bar and Vogue Cafe, and Vogue Clubs will open in June in Singapore and next year in Dubai and Bangkok, according to BrandChannel

Condé Nast hopes to eventually expand to Latin America as well, but not the US or Europe: The company's focusing on "Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American markets where there is a strong appetite for luxury brands in retail and hospitality,” Stuart Nielsen, director of Condé Nast International Restaurants, told Business of Fashion.

Earlier this week, Mashable reported Teen Vogue’s plans to venture into e-commerce beginning in July. Platform 72Lux will allow users to create a single shopping cart with items from a number of retailers, all accessed through Both Teen Vogue and 72Lux will take a cut of the sales.

In mid-March, Condé Nast launched video channels for Glamour and GQ, banking on the higher profit margin of video ads compared to other digital ads. The webisodes, featured on YouTube and the publications’ websites, tackle topics from relationships and fashion to fitness. Condé Nast plans to introduce similar series to its other magazines, USA Today reported.

"We're trying to take content that magazine brands already publish and start to expand the reach,” said Dawn Ostroff, President, Condé Nast Entertainment. "Video is where consumers are heading."

Consumers are also heading to cash registers with Condé Nast products, including a recently-announced clothing line by Teen Vogue editors. The magazine’s editor Amy Astley said the clothing line, available through Macy’s, was “the next logical step” to the magazine’s several-years-old bedding collection and the its branded mobile game, Teen Vogue Me Girl, according to WWD.

In March, Condé Nast also announced it led a $20 million investment in farfetch, an e-retailer that sells products from 250 boutiques. The investment “underlines our commitment to extend the scope of our activities,” James Bilefield, President of Condé Nast International, Digital, said in a statement. The company also invested in retailers RéneSim and MONOQI earlier this year and Rent the Runway last year, TechCrunch reported.

These new ventures now contribute about 10 percent of the company's total revenues, Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International told Business of Fashion.

While we've seen this strategy bring the company additional revenue, what remains unknown is how these expansions will impact Condé Nast's journalism. With editors such as Teen Vogue's embarking on ventures like fashion lines, Condé Nast is further distorting the already hazy line between editorial and business. Could this "last-ditch effort to revive the struggling print industry" do more damage than good?

Updated 19 April to include information about Condé Nast International Restaurants and the fact that the company's new ventures comprise 10 percent of total revenues.


Kira Witkin


2013-04-16 15:39

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