["I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes." - Erma Bombeck ]
Before women go to the mall, they go to the shopping bible Lucky. Now the magazine wants to save them the price of gas.
On Aug. 17, the magazine will introduce a shopping site called myLuckymag.com that will direct readers to buy clothing and accessories directly from more than a dozen retailers like Macy’s and Sephora.
Instead of directing shoppers to store sites to buy items, a shopper never has to leave the myLucky site and can keep items from multiple stores in her shopping cart. Shoppers also can click on mylucky versions of Web sites like Macy’s, only with a narrower list of merchandise organized by Lucky editors.
“What we are trying to do is give them the world of options,” said Brandon Holley, the magazine’s editor in chief, as she sat in her Midtown office surrounded by images of the proposed site designs. “She needs choice. She needs diversity.”
Lucky is the latest magazine to look to e-commerce to buttress its income. The magazine’s revenue from advertising pages declined by 15 percent in the second quarter to $29 million compared with $34 million the same time the year before, according to MPA’s Publishers Information Bureau. Lucky’s circulation declined to 1.12 million from 1.16 million in the last four years, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Ms. Holley hopes that its shopping component will become a bigger part of revenue in the future. The magazine is already working on revenue-sharing relationships with the retailers it is working with and expects to get roughly 3 percent to 15 percent of every sale.
“There’s a huge opportunity for revenue and traffic growth,” Ms. Holley said.
The magazine hired three staff members to help with its plans. To accompany its participating retailers, Lucky plans to increase its number of online posts from 30 a day to 120 a day. Lucky editors will depend heavily on contributions from the online community of bloggers it has been developing.
Lucky also is offering the expertise of its editors to help readers. Shoppers now can send a question to Lucky asking for advice on their shopping decisions, such as what items they should keep or remove from their shopping basket. Lucky executives stress that what they are doing is new because they let readers shop from a range of retailers.
But the recent partnerships that other magazines have tried with retailers are sobering. In the past year, several major magazines threw aside the traditional church-and-state divisions that existed between editorial and advertising and tried trial partnerships with e-commerce sites to sell clothing.
Esquire Magazine, which worked with J.C. Penney to start a Web site called Cladmen.com that sold items appearing in the magazine, closed the site a couple of months afterward. Details did not renew the one-year relationship it started last August to sell clothing on Mr. Porter, the men’s version of Net-a-Porter.
GQ, which had a six-month relationship with Park & Bond, an e-commerce site for designer men’s wear, in July formed a new relationship with Nordstrom to sell clothing selected by GQ editors on NordstromMen.com. Vogue is one of the few magazines continuing its relationship with Moda Operandi, which allows shoppers to preorder looks from runway shows.
Ms. Holley said she had ignored most other magazines when coming up with this design. She studied shopping Web sites like Gucci, Anthropologie and Kate Spade. She sought help from a Silicon Valley-based company called Revel Touch that advised Anthropologie on its site.
She also gathered a lot of research about what Lucky readers want from shopping. She found that 70 percent of Lucky subscribers wanted to compare prices before they bought and 43 percent welcomed “personal style tutorials” when they were shopping. That further convinced Ms. Holley that the magazine had to offer relationships with many retailers and pair it with Lucky editorial content.
“Can you imagine going to the mall and only shopping in one corner of the shop?” she asked. “That’s what a lot of magazines did.”
Ms. Holley said she had wanted to make sure not to betray the trust of Lucky readers by ever recommending certain products over others because of these new financial relationships. She said that as Lucky establishes relationships with lots of retailers, Lucky will have a certain scale of relationships that makes this seem less of a problem. She plans to continue to feature just as many less well-known designers in the magazine as in the past who may not make lucrative business partners because she would lose her loyal following of readers if she did not.
“For me, what would be a problem is if we were pushing things if we were making money,” Ms. Holley said.
Lucky editors plan to introduce the entire shopping program with their September digital edition. Ms. Holley said in her September editor’s note that since the magazine started working on its digital editions, she has been tempted to shop more. (She recently bought a $620 A.P.C. and Vanessa Seward golden tunic and a $468 floaty BCBG dress with a geometric pattern that are on the new app.) In October, Lucky is also introducing an online sticker program that lets shoppers attach the stickers it has in its magazine to flag items now on any Web sites.
John Parham, a brand consultant who helped Teen Vogue partner with Macy’s on a merchandise agreement and Better Homes and Gardens link up with Walmart to sell home goods, said that since most shopping still takes place in stores, magazines often make more money when they create their own merchandise. But he also thinks the Lucky brand carries enough authority with shoppers that its shopping project has a lot of potential.
“Lucky is essentially doing what they do best,” Mr. Parham said.
Lucky’s publisher, Marcy Bloom, said that this new shopping component is different from any of these other merchandising relationships.
“We are looking at our business with a much larger lens than the standard magazine business,” she said.
By D. Eadward Tree
Time Inc.’s magazines are facing such “soft market conditions” that their estimated value may decline significantly this year, the company revealed in a financial statement yesterday.
The country’s largest magazine publisher began 2012 with an estimated fair market value 19% higher than its book value, parent Time Warner stated in its quarterly
10-Q financial report.
“During 2012, the Publishing segment has experienced soft market conditions that have negatively impacted its operating results. If those market conditions worsen, it is possible that the book values of the Time Inc. reporting unit and certain of its tradenames will exceed their respective fair values, which may result in the Company recognizing a noncash impairment that could be material.”
Decreased sales of both ad pages and newsstand copies dragged the publishing unit’s first-half operating income down 60% from last year.
Lower print volumes enabled Time Inc. to decrease its production costs. But those savings were swallowed up by “higher editorial costs associated with investments in websites and tablet editions of magazines.”
Time “expects that the soft market conditions associated with the Publishing segment’s worldwide newsstand sales and domestic magazine advertising revenues will continue through at least the third quarter of 2012.”