Jonathan Newhouse: The answer to falling sales is to dazzle and inspire our readers

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Some naysayers paint a gloomy picture for the future of printed magazines, and it would be inaccurate not to acknowledge that there are a few problems on the horizon. In a number of Western markets, single copy sales have been falling. The phenomenon is due not so much to a falling demand for magazines as a decreasing number of kiosks in countries like France and Italy, where rising rents have driven them out. Magazine publishers have had to turn to subscriptions and other distribution methods to make up for lost sales. Another threat is the fact that magazines' share of total advertising spend is gently declining as digital media consumes more of marketing budgets.

For an international magazine publisher with global brands, there is another very slight problem. There is only one planet Earth. Only one United States of America, only one China and only one Russia. Only one France, only one Italy and only one Brazil. Our company and our competitors have already expanded our key products into the richest, highest potential markets. There are markets left to develop but with a few exceptions, they tend to be smaller and less wealthy.

Do you want a prediction? You don't have to be a genius to figure out that it's going to get a little tougher for all international magazine brands. Consumers have more choices to spend their time and to entertain themselves. More choices mean more competition, and that means some magazine brands may suffer, and even fall by the wayside. In Britain this year, Arena, the first men's title to launch in the market, and Maxim, until recently one of the circulation leaders, closed down. Yet other international men's titles, like Men's Health and GQ continue to flourish.

What is the answer? The same as it has always been. Make a great magazine. Dazzle your readers, inform them, inspire them and grip their imagination. Connect to their hearts and their minds. Do it with conviction and with emotion. Convey the same values with a website, with a weekend, with an event or an experience which engages them. Love your readers (and your advertisers) and they will love you back.

Taken from a speech by the chairman of Condé Nast International at the FIPP World Magazine Congress in London.

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