Can Irish Tatler find ‘new mood’ in women’s magazines market?

Cantillon: The print product has undergone a stylish rebrand, but will it be enough?

May 2019 edition of ‘Irish Tatler’, the first under a ‘new vision’ for the print product, now owned by Irish Studio.

May 2019 edition of ‘Irish Tatler’, the first under a ‘new vision’ for the print product, now owned by Irish Studio.

 

You don’t need a magnifying glass to detect the reasons why the mood in the women’s magazine sector hasn’t been especially glossy of late. The challenge of persuading readers to pay for content when there’s a free online buffet is one common to all print publishers. Women’s monthlies and other lifestyle titles then face the added difficulty of seeing advertisers’ revenue switching directly to a long tail of Insta-brands, influencers and celebrities.

So it is a welcome development that Irish Studio, owner of Irish Tatler since late 2017, has decided to revamp the print edition of the 129-year-old magazine in a fetching new rebrand on shelves today, rather than consign its physical format to history.

The company, backed by US venture capital firm Studio VC, stopped the press on another women’s monthly, U magazine, last year, and is now calling a halt to U’s short-lived digital-only existence in favour of a big push behind Irish Tatler as a multi-format brand. In its last audited circulation figure, before its sale, Irish Tatler sold 21,056 copies. The market is unlikely to have been kind since then. Will the new approach work?

Irish Studio co-chief executive Katie Molony says she is “passionate” about women’s publications and that many advertisers still want to see their brands in a “premium” print space.

Stylish revamp

The product itself, with a cover price of €3.95, has had a stylish redesign, adopting a less brash logo and more muted colour palette. The editorial tone wisely seeks to swerve the didactic tendencies of some publications: “Good news: in 2019 your wardrobe can be as gamine or as guerrilla as you desire,” it assures. It is striking, too, that celebrities have been left off the cover.

This is, in respects other than financial, a golden age for media content by women for women. As editor Sarah Macken writes, citing Captain Marvel and the happily non-fictional US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there is no shortage of modern-day heroines.

The big question is whether there are enough modern-day readers to go around for all the publishers valiantly courting them.

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