It’s not news that retailers are hot on publishing custom magazines as a reward for account holders. What is super cool, though, is Woolworths’ decision to publish not one, but two versions of W, their new title that is to fashion and beauty what TASTE is to food.
The first shows the model wearing classic blue and white, an accessible cover that is stylish and simple. The second is high fashion, a sleek and sophisticated cover with a model wearing predominantly white. Both have a clean and uncluttered look with striking cover-lines with racy red highlights and accentuated by strong typography.
“There was a strategy to segment readers and offer them different versions of the magazine,” says Clare O’Donoghue, W’s content director who handles several magazine projects for publishers, New Media. “We won’t be doing it for the next edition, which has a festive focus, but it worked for the launch issue that we hoped would be inspirational and aspirational.”
Woolworths, says O’Donoghue, has a “massive market”, but there are big differences in that market. “One cover (white) was a bit more glamorous, with a strong fashion focus. The other was classic, a little more conservative. It wasn’t necessarily just an age thing, but also drilled down to how much people spend, where they live. One focused more on the basic lines, while the other was more high fashion,” she explains.
W doesn’t just do fashion though; there’s beauty, food and décor too.
What is clear in both magazines’ content is that it is editorially driven, not just product-based. “We were given a mandate to engage with readers through a strong editorial approach,” says O’Donoghue. “We looked at merchandising differently; the magazine isn’t a catalogue.”
She uses as an example a story on flares; a history of the style, shown via archival photographs that travel through different fashion eras. And then the pants photographed now, in a modern context. It works.
Interestingly, some of the fashion spreads have then been showcased on mannequins in the stores, using the clothes and accessories to pull the look together in ‘real life’.
It’s that kind of thinking that lends itself to that sense of respecting the reader, by taking catwalk trends and making them really accessible to ‘ordinary’ women. “It makes a difference,” says O’Donoghue. “It shows how those looks are not unobtainable. They’re wearable.”
It’s an approach that works, judging by the response. O’Donoghue says the feedback from readers has been “phenomenal”.
“There needed to be a rethink on the concept of ‘rewards’. A magazine is not enough; it has to offer real value. Consumers are a lot more cynical now. It has to be a high value product that has high production values. Our content is delivered though solid journalism practiced by smart journalists,” she says.
That’s why you’ll see journalists such as Femina’s one time beauty editor, Marianne Campbell. Then there’s Maranda Engelbrecht, an experienced food journalist and stylist who owns the restaurant, Babel. Paul Duncan is a former editor of House & Garden who now heads Woolworths’ design and homeware division.
The approach has seen high end advertisers come in from the first edition. Elizabeth Arden is there, as is Tag Heuer and Land Rover.
“It’s our business to read people, and we think we’ve really got it right once again with W,” says Irna van Zyl, New Media’s group content director. “Woolworths TASTE has been to food, W will be to fashion.”
W goes to 350 000 cardholders, but also retails at the stores for R24.95.