What Does The Demise Of Glamour Magazine Mean For Both Print & Digital Media?

It’s been a pretty depressing outlook for the majority of print media over the last few years. Titles closing, jobs being consolidated and fewer and fewer outlets providing real quality journalism that doesn’t just re-hash the same sex tips every six months. With circulations rapidly in decline as young men and women in particular look for more instantaneous news and inspiration, more publishing houses are trying to change the way they operate in an attempt to stay afloat. What was once a pretty stable and cash rich industry (thanks to the constant support of big brands paying to be seen within their pages,) has become volatile, somewhat outdated and in jeopardy of disappearing altogether. Last week one of the UK’s biggest monthly women’s glossies, Glamour, announced they would no longer be publishing the magazine in the format we’d known and loved for so long; they’re now to be an ‘online beauty destination’ with a supporting glossy magazine published seasonally only twice a year.

Although this was greeted with thoughts of ‘another one bites the dust’ I was genuinely a little shocked, surprised and sad at this news. (Even more so when editor Jo Elvin announced she’d also be leaving the title.) I’ve been a Glamour reader since it was first launched in the UK and for years absorbed the magazine from cover to cover; although in recent years I felt somewhat distanced from it as a title, thanks to the cover price reducing to a single pound I started to pick it up again and rediscover my love for pouring over glossy pages with a cup of tea in hand. Yes the content was usually a re-hash of stuff I’d already read ten times, and the beauty pages looked like an edit of things that had landed in my inbox weeks before, but that hour sat on my sofa munching on biscuits with it in hand was one I was glad of. They may have failed to capture the attention of a visual and instantly-gratified younger generation, but over the years Glamour has made a lot of positive change – from championing charitable causes and women’s issues, to interviewing politicians and focusing on careers when every other woman’s title was still giving us tips on how to give the perfect b**w j*b. So how did this happen and what does the further demise of magazines mean for the print industry? And what does it mean for digital media too?

RE-HASHTING THE SAME CONTENT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH

When I was a teenager I spent most of my mornings before school in the newsagent buying up every magazine there was and reading every single word. Every one of those titles (Top of the Pops, Smash Hits, TV Hits, Bliss, Sugar, J17, Live & Kicking…) offered me something different and a reason to hand over my pocked money. Over the years this concept has been totally lost and so many of the mags are just offering the same thing we’ve seen in five other titles at least five times before; it’s become even worse with the consolidation of roles and writing teams, where now one article or interview can be re-hashed in three or four different titles and even sent to international teams too. The result of this is that we’re just not getting anything new or anything worth parting with our money for; it’s no wonder that both the glossies and weeklies have been closing at such a rapid place. In order to stand out and build a loyal following, magazines (and papers) need to offer something refreshing, different and unique. They need to go back to great journalism, rather than lazy edits or click-baity titles that undermine what they’re about.

WE’RE GETTING BORED OF CELEBRITY CULTURE

In my opinion, we reached ‘peak celebrity’ about three years ago. We’d become so immersed in the lives of so many reality stars that it just started to get boring; who cares if so-and-so from TOWIE has had an argument with her boyfriend, or that Kim K is wearing next to nothing on the red carpet? We’d seen it all before and it really wasn’t worth buying a magazine to find out what we’d already seen on the Daily Mail sidebar of shame. Social media broke down barriers too, allowing us unequivocal access to our favourite faces without the need to spend money for the privilege; we could see what they were doing while they were doing it, and get our hit of fashion the moment they clicked ‘publish’. What’s the benefit of buying a magazine filled with paparazzi pictures when you’ve got a front row seat to what’s actually happening in their lives, if you care enough to pay attention? This change in access was also paired with the biggest economic and political changes we’d experienced in decades: Trump’s presidency, Brexit, endless terrorist attacks… They kind of put Cara Delivigne’s new haircut into perspective.

HAVING A BIG BRAND NAME ISN’T EVERYTHING 

Glamour is one of the biggest magazine names globally, with local titles in over twenty countries. They’ve always had the support of the best names in the business, thanks to their annual Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, and have never struggled to get the hottest famous faces on their cover. They host events, have launched their own beauty and fashion lines, and even have a podcast hosted by editor Jo Elvin. If they couldn’t make it work, than can anyone? It just goes to prove that having a big brand name behind you doesn’t mean everything if it doesn’t translate into sales. They failed to give women a reason to pick up their magazine in the long-term (even after reducing their cover price to only a quid) and are unfortunately suffering the consequences.  

YOU NEED TO EVOLVE & REFRESH CONSTANTLY 

There’s no denying that we get bored very easily. Our attention spans are lower than they’ve ever been and we’ve become increasingly visual, getting our quick fix from a scroll on Instagram or click on our news app. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t absolutely a place for great quality journalism and beautifully written pieces – you just have to constantly evolve and refresh what you’re doing to stay relevant. An edit of winter skin tips has been done a million times before, as has ‘who wore it best’ and asking Blake Lively what her favourite lipstick is; we’re intelligent women (and men) who want more from that moment with a newspaper or magazine. We desire and deserve thought provoking content that teaches us something new, or provides information in a fresh and exciting way – think that scene from ’13 Going On 30′ (one of the best films ever) when Jenna totally flips what the magazine is about and turns it into a success. It’s not about adding in a feature or two, but it’s about creating something that’s relevant to the reader of 2017 and beyond. That’s what will separate those that can and will survive, and those that will flounder around before their inevitable closure too.

All of these issues are just as relevant to the digital media industry right now as they are the print. As bloggers, vloggers, instagrammers and influencers, we need to ensure we’re not just bashing out the same old content or blending into a sea of ‘same-y-ness’. We need to not rely on the brand name we’ve build up, instead trying always to push boundaries and use our platforms to inspire and motivate in whichever way is relevant to our audiences. Right now we’re experiencing a huge boom, but this will not last forever: just as the general public have become tiresome of magazines, they’ll inevitably become just as tiresome with the millions of blogs doing the same thing. We can learn from the print industry and attempt to protect ourselves from the same fate in five or ten years time, but the most important lesson to learn is that nobody is ever immune from failure. It’s more important than ever to stand out, find your niche, build up loyalty with your audience and give them a reason to coming back for more.

What that is is up to you.

What do you feel about the changes Glamour is making? Are you sad to see the back of so many magazines, or are you excited to see how the digital space will evolve in the next decade?

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19 Comments

  1. Emma
    October 16, 2017 / 7:55 am

    You are right we have usually seen a lot of the content already online by the time our magazine subscriptions hit our doormat. I have two subscriptions – Glamour & Grazia and although like you I like to take the time to have a cuppa and sit down and read its too easy to push this aside when you have so many other things going on and you know what you are expecting. I usually use my subscriptions of a barometer of whether I have had enough time to myself. If they have piled up for a few weeks then I know I need some me time. But again its not because I am desperate to read these magazines – more because I know I am going to end up frazzled.Maybe if the content was more engaging I would be keen to read them as soon as they arrived.

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:56 am

      I know what you mean – I often buy a stash of magazines and they sit there for weeks, waiting for me to take the time to indulge in them. I used to immediately read them from cover to cover, but the content just feels a little stale now.

  2. Lamesha
    October 16, 2017 / 8:50 am

    Oh wow. I really had no idea. I love Glamour. I'm American and would always buy the UK verson at the airport or read it online. But all of your points are spot on, everything we need to know we can find online faster and for free (or next to nothing). I'm over celebrity culture and just follow a bunch of people/bloggers I like on instagram and twitter (like you) to keep up with trends and beauty news.

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:57 am

      I think the US version is a lot more successful – and the US market very different to the UK print market? I guess because the population is so much bigger and circulations are much larger, they're not bound by the same issues as us. It's a real shame though.

  3. The Pearly Life
    October 16, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    I was shocked Glamour magazine was going out of print but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. There was nothing really separating print from online magazines. I think us as bloggers now need to always think outside the box and cling to what makes us unique. Because trends, even the most popular, impossible to die out, trends are not immortal. Lovely written post!! Pearl || http://thepearlylife.com

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:57 am

      Thank you! And you're right – a trend, by its very nature, is only temporary.

  4. Erin Russell
    October 16, 2017 / 11:35 pm

    I think magazines just haven't moved with the times like they needed to. Glamour was like paying money to look at adverts. There is no fun in that – at all, Which is a shame – because the content could have been good. It will be brands like Blogosphere who bring back the magazine! 🙂 Erin || MakeErinOver

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 6:08 am

      I felt like there was SO MUCH opportunity to do something fresh, but I can only assume the lack of staff and investment prevented this. I love Blogosphere Mag too!

  5. Pam Scalfi
    October 17, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I literally saw 13 going to 30 a few days back and I agree 100%. I get fashion magazines free here in the building I work and I in at least 4 out 5 of the titles, the same articles are present with slight differences. There is a lack of innovation! And gosh, dont even get me started on celeb news…so sick of seeing Kim K's face everywhere!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 6:09 am

      Me too *eye roll* She's not news – she's not even of importance. I used to get the magazines when I worked in advertising and I would take piles of them home to read; now they're all the same, with the same content repeated year after year. It's such a shame.

  6. Jess Athorn
    October 17, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    To be honest, I think the rise of social media has had the biggest impact on printed magazines and I feel terrible for not buying more magazines over the past couple of years because I know I'll miss them when they're goneJess | http://acornlifefitness.com

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 6:09 am

      I think many of us are stuck between thinking they're a bit rubbish and wanting them to survive – they need to give us better content and we need to buy them more! Only then will the industry stay afloat.

  7. Nital Shah
    October 23, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    I am really sad about this as I love print magazines, I still have my filofax and write letters. The pleasure I get reading through a magazine cannot be achieved online, it's really not the same. I am sick to death of celebrity culture stuff, I cannot relate to it and it does not apply to me and to be truly honest I don't really give a shit what they do. Bring back print!

  8. Abigail Alice x
    October 31, 2017 / 10:37 am

    I also posted on Glamour's demise! I was surprised that Glamour collapsed before ELLE as I've been hearing around the grapevine that their numbers are tragic (reportedly only 1.1k copies sold on newsstands in the UK in March of this year which is dreadful!).Magazines should be quicker at keeping on top of news, but they're terrible at it because they don't hire young people. Im studying an MA in fashion journalism at the mo and getting a job at these publications is next to impossible. When they hire, they want years of experience when they should be hiring people who are used to very fast fashion and beauty on social media or blogging. Vogue is notorious for being the magazine that completely missed the internet, they were to arrogant to think that it would affect their publication but it has done. Hence, the more 'hip' Edward Enninful coming in to hopefully save the stuffy magazine. It is a difficult time for print media. But only if you're refusing to adapt. Magazines are clinging onto old print media ways of life and aren't keeping up with the times and they'll die because of that. It's great that Glamour is going digital, but they should have done that ten years ago and worked a more exciting website alongside their print! I'm very exciting to see where UK magazines will be in the next 5 years or so though! I think it's a fab time to be a journalist.Abigail Alice x

    • Rhi
      November 3, 2017 / 10:59 am

      oh my word I had no idea of those Elle figures, that's awful!Company did a really good job at rehashing the mag, using social media trends in both style and language, using younger staffers to drive the direction of the mag and really looked set to stay afloat but I think they barely made it a year in the newer, fresher format before they collapsed too 🙁

    • Chichi
      November 10, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      I totally agree with your points, Abigail. I definitely think that magazines haven't caught up with the digital age.Chichichichiwrites.com

  9. Adorngirl
    October 31, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    This is an amazing lesson to all of us, to work to keep improving and challenging ourselves to create great content, because who knows where blogging will be tomorrow. It's a scary landscape but exciting too, as we are literally creating our success.

  10. CreativeCat
    November 5, 2017 / 10:49 am

    but why online is considered a regression for the print magazine? the fact that everyone has access to the internet and a form of online information should be considered a step forward, alignment to new times. magazines must begin to turn everything into something new and productive, even if it means becoming an online magazine. why is it so important on what format you appear as long as you do a good job?

    • Hayley Hall
      November 5, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      Because people are losing their jobs; journalism is changing and we're losing a lot of good quality content in favour of quick and easy stuff that's repeated across multiple platforms. If the quality remained the same and it was still a solid profession there wouldn't be an issue; unfortunately that's not the case.

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