Last week, Bauer's head of digital Michael Fuyala told StopPress that the publisher would over the next few months be making some significant moves in the digital space following the decision to join the IAB. And last night, the company kicked off the first phase of its new digital strategy—which has been in the pipeline for some time—by announcing a digital extension for Fashion Quarterly called FQ.co.nz.
Fuyala previously said that the website's design and direction had been informed by extensive research, which the magazine's editor Sally-Ann Mullin elaborated on last night at a launch event held at the Spark Lab in Auckland's Seafarers Building.
“The fashion landscape has changed rapidly and the FQ brand is evolving alongside our industry and audiences,” said Mullin. "Bauer Media has demonstrated its commitment to New Zealand fashion by conducting a large-scale research project that has sought in-depth feedback from more than 3600 women. The studies explored New Zealanders’ connection to fashion, what motivates them and drives their purchasing behaviour. We also looked into the retail experience and interaction with digital fashion platforms and, importantly, the role that the FQ brand plays in their world."
On the print side, Fashion Quarterly continues to have a high readership, with the latest results from Nielsen showing that the publication still attracted 196,000 readers on average. However, this number had slipped from the readership of 228,000 recorded for the same time a year earlier. This slide is also reflected in the publication's circulation figures, which dropped from 21,200 for the period ended 31 December 2013 to 19,100 a year later.
Bauer will hope link its print readership to the online space through the new website. But doing this requires a very different approach. Online audiences demand frequent updates of new content, and this means that the editorial team will be required to upload new stories and fashion spreads on a daily basis. And, as explained in the 'About us' section of the website, this is particularly important in the fashion industry, which is always subject to change:
"Given the pace fashion moves, its only right that we have the ability to provide the very best fashion and beauty content constantly, as in 24/7, to complement our sleek seasonal print magazines. We know it’s the way many people consume media, and seek fashion inspiration. Most of us can relate to searching out products and online shopping by the light of our laptop screens late at night! Yes, the website has been a while coming, but what can we say, all the VIPs arrive fashionably late."
The new website has a very minimalist style, using a black and white frame to host the vibrant colours of the fashion depicted in the features, images and videos on the homepage. In addition to these sections, the website also features 'lookbooks', which provide a pictorial glimpse at what the nation's local labels are up to.
"There was an overwhelming demand from New Zealand women to see all the look books from locally available fashion labels in one place, as they come to market. This was reflected in the designs with look books streaming into every page," says Fuyala. "We had a really positive reception from the fashion community as it’s also free promotion for them aimed at growing and supporting the category as a whole."
The introduction of the new site has led to dissolution of fashionandbeauty.co.nz, which now links directly to the new site.
"That website has been transformed into this one, with all the same amazing content you enjoyed there, but with the added benefit of the Fashion Quarterly team’s own knowledgeable and respected editorial voice," says the writeup on the website. "Along with all the latest fashion and beauty news, there will be more extended content from the magazine, additional lifestyle features, desirable giveaways and video content."
Fuyala sees the updated website as a strong commercial opportunity to host "large format rich media ads" and also believes it lends itself to the growing demand for native advertising and content integration.
"From an advertiser perspective the big trends were luxury fashion and beauty brands raising the standard and digital creative, with large high profile rich media ads, the site was designed specifically with these in mind with a lot of white space to let the content and ads breath. There was also growing demand for native and integrated content which the new site can seamlessly accommodate in the featured area on every page."
But in order to appeal to clients, the site will need to attract at least some of the high-quality audience that's already subscribed to the print version.
And based on the success of Bauer's other digital projects, Fuyala believes that this shouldn't be a problem.
“Bauer Media’s consumer magazine websites had nearly 600,000 visitors last month, and our social media reaches more than 500,000 women each week. We expect to see even faster growth as we ramp up our investment in story-telling across more and more platforms."