Publishing Conversations: The Magazine Market in China
Quentin: The competition has gotten intense in the last two or three years. [The number of] male lifestyle magazines are increasing. That is why Hearst is doing Elle Men in China. It sounds a little bit weird, but Elle entered China in 1988, and it's a brand. It means fashion.
PE: So it is identified with fashion generally, not necessarily just women's fashion.
PE: You mentioned the distribution challenge in China. Why is it difficult to distribute magazines, and how does this affect your strategy for selling them?
Chris: Because China is such a large area, similar to the whole of Europe, in different provinces they have different policies for distribution. For some parts of China it's newsstand, in others the post office, [state-owned] stores—sometimes the policies are really different [from place to place]. So that's why its difficult to have the same standards for distribution.
Quentin: One of the biggest problems in China today is the gap between the rich and the poor: 'tier one' and 'tier two.' In the small cities and countryside [people] do not have the habit of reading magazines. But in big cities everybody is used to it. So you have different strategies in different places.
PE: Chris, you are the publisher of Elle Decoration, one of the Hachette titles acquired by Hearst last year. What has changed under new ownership?
Chris: For the group, we just changed the name. Nothing changed internally.
PE: You do not have Twitter in China. Is there an equivalent social media platform?
Chris: We have another [social website] called Weibo. It's a microblog [like Twitter]. It is more vivid maybe than Twitter.
PE: What is the most important social media platform in China when it comes to publicizing your magazine?
Quentin: I think Weibo is the most important in social media for magazines. Social media in China is becoming important for everybody [in publishing].