Mindfood heads for home with latest brand extension

Magazine brands have long embraced the wagon wheel approach and interact with their audiences through a range of different mediums, whether it’s print, online or events. And while there’s no doubt print is declining in popularity in some segments, it is still working well in others and Mindfood has followed up its launch of its Style brand extension last year with a new one called Decor that’s aimed at the big, growing but quite cluttered home and living market. 

About two years ago, Mindfood founder and editor-and-chief Michael McHugh says it conducted some research around potential brand extensions and looked at the interests of its readers. And the two areas it decided to focus on were fashion and home. 

When it launched its twice-yearly Style title last year, he said there was a gap in the market for something different that could compete with the established brands of Fashion Quarterly, which has recently launched its website, and Simply You. And he believes Decor also stands apart from the range of other titles in this category. 

He says a lot of the competing magazines are very similar and focused on houses. But for him it’s always about what goes into the house; about the things that make up “the fabric of your own environment”. 

“You don’t buy a new house every year. But you do keep buying things to put in your house,” he says. Or, as it says on the website: “Not just pages of unattainable interior design perfection, Mindfood Decor offers a range of collections of furniture, tableware, fabrics, furnishings to make a house a home.”

And, according to Statistics New Zealand data, there’s a fair bit of growth in the home and living retail sector. 

Mimicking the strategy of Style, the magazine will be published twice a year and the first issue is being sent out for free with the August edition of Mindfood magazine. It has a print run of 50,000 and will only be available in New Zealand. Decor will also run as a sub-section of the main Mindfood website, with its own newsletter and events series.

“It’s like a mini version of Mindfood.” 

And while there are more smaller advertisers in the home category than the fashion industry, he says it is still focused on the upper crust. 

“They are smaller [advertisers], but we’ve got readers who are buying these products, they’re well-travelled and they’ve got a lot of disposable income so they spend a lot of money. It’s a great market to have.”

So does launching another magazine make him a sucker for punishment? Or is there a misperception about the viability of print titles? He says there’s always plenty of discussion about the downward trends for magazines, but for Mindfood and its brand extensions, that’s not the case.

“We’re one of the top five fastest growing titles in the country. And we’re selling more magazines in total … business is good.” 

According to the audit bureau of circulation, Mindfood’s average net paid sales for the last quarter were down only slightly to 30,552 from 30,972. Readership was down to 212,000 from 225,000 at the same time last year. 

So, after the initial interest died down, how has Mindfood Style gone? McHugh wouldn’t give any circulation or readership numbers and it doesn’t appear on the audit bureau of circulation, but he says “it’s above where we thought it would be, which is very exciting”. But he says that’s not entirely surprising as the advertising team has done a great job, it has invested a lot in quality editorial, there’s a really good market for the product and there has been very strong advertiser support. 

As for its tablet app, which got a bit of attention from Apple a few years back, he says the numbers are still there, but it’s not experiencing the same level of growth as it was. 

He says it never saw the app as a saviour, as some publishers seemed to a few years back. It’s just another way for subscribers—often of the international variety—to access the content. But the majority of its readers still love the printed product. 

Over at Bauer, North & South has launched a one shot (or as it lovingly calls it a ‘mook’) that collates some of its best investigations. The true crime genre is currently having a bit of a moment, with the Serial podcast taking the world by storm (and plenty looking forward to the upcoming second season). And North & South has a well-deserved reputation for quality crime reporting so it’s trying to make its existing content go a bit further and bring in a bit more cash. 

As it says on Facebook: “Revisit the ‘scenes of the crimes’ in this special collection of North & South investigations – digging behind the headlines of some of our most notorious unsolved murders, miscarriages of justice and cases that still polarise opinion today. This bound collector’s edition is on sale now in supermarkets and bookstores for $14.95.” 

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