Publishing Conversations: The Magazine Market in China
At the Yale Publishing Course this week, Publishing Executive had the opportunity to speak with a couple of attendees from China: Chris Hu, publisher of Elle Decoration, and Quentin Li, editorial director and associate publisher of Elle Men. Both Shanghai-based magazines were acquired last year by Hearst in its mega-deal with Hachette, with the changeover to new ownership completed in December.
Both Elle brands are in the center of a burgeoning magazine market in China fueled by the growth of an affluent urban population. As China Daily reported last year, men's magazines, a relatively new entry in the Chinese media market, have enjoyed an annual growth rate of 30 percent since 2006.
PE:What is the most profitable area of the magazine business in China? Subscriptions? Newsstand sales? Ad sales?
Chris: Advertising, definitely. Because we put a lot of production costs into the magazine, the paper quality is much better than in the U.S. The printing cost is pretty high, so we don't think we can make money from newsstands right now. Maybe some magazines [in China] can.
Quentin: For glossy magazines like ours, you cannot make money selling magazines on the newsstand. There is a point where beyond that [number of magazines shipped] you are losing money because of the quality.
PE: Who are the major advertisers for you in China?
Chris: Fashion, beauty. Luxury brands. Jewelry.
Quentin: Luxury items. I am doing a men's magazine, so also cars. Watches.
PE: How is the magazine market changing? What is the most important factor behind these changes?
Chris: Several years ago, for fashion magazines, there were only a few. Ours was maybe the only one. It is the largest one; we've been in China for 24 years. Several years ago, Vogue entered the Chinese market. We also [now] have Cosmopolitan and Harpers Bazaar. There is new competition for print.