In part two of The Media’s look at newcomers to the South African market, we ask why there’s been an influx of overseas veteran magazines opening shop in South Africa. And how are they going to fare in 2012?
The South African magazine industry has seen a flood of veteran international titles launching local versions in 2011. This merely added to an already-oversubscribed market.
Forbes Africa, Good Housekeeping, Rolling Stone South Africa, Top Gear and Playboy took their age-old status and gave it a local flair.
“We have a market populated largely with lookalike titles and, hence, those unique titles with consistent content thrive while the majority struggle,” says Gordon Patterson, group managing director of the Starcom MediaVest Group. “The benefit of launching these titles is simply that they already have defined editorial content, target audience and reader base.”
Rolling Stone South Africa’s editor-in-chief, Miles Keylock, says his magazine differs from the American edition in that the content is distinctly South African. “It will fill a gap that has existed in South African journalism for some time,” he says. “Rolling Stone’s mix of music and current affairs is a perfect fit in South Africa. We live in a country where our president and ANC Youth League president both have branded songs.”
As for Forbes Africa, its managing editor, Chris Bishop, believes it will appeal to international and local readers because of its focus on business in Africa. “There is always a place for a classic name like Forbes,” he says. “People in Africa will always want inside information about what is happening in the world of making money. This is the emerging market like no other around the world. Business is the new rock & roll in Africa.”
Tanya Schreuder, director of Vizeum South Africa, says it will be easier for Top Gear magazine to break into the South African media market because it is a well-known brand here, what with the ever-popular television programme.
But she is sceptical of Playboy, following its failure to become sustainable in the past and the resistance to it from conservative advertisers in the local market. On top of Pick n Pay and Woolworths blocking it from their shelves, the South African Playboy also struggles with brands that advertise in the international magazine but refuse to advertise locally, says editor-in-chief Charl du Plessis.
But he is confident that Playboy does fill a gap in the market. “Every other men’s lifestyle magazine out there is getting men to live up to others’ expectations. Playboy teaches you to make the best of your life. That attitude works better in South Africa.”
Then there is Good Housekeeping, which was recently launched in English and Afrikaans by Associated Magazines. It is a successful brand internationally, with more than 30 million readers worldwide. Associated Magazines group publisher, Andreline van Tonder, says that it is the ideal magazine for busy women who look for one magazine that covers beauty, fashion, home, health and food, all in one read.
“Only time will tell if these global brand giants will work in South Africa, but with globalisation there is a portion of South Africans who will be rather happy to have access to these brands at a quarter of the cover price,” says Schreuder.
But Patterson is sceptical. “Overseas or historically, relevant titles do not guarantee success in South Africa. Markets move on.”
This story was first published in The Media magazine.