Cairo Editore: A success story in a challenging market

Urbano Cairo, chairman of Cairo Editore, Italy’s fastest growing media company, shared the main business principles that have made his company’s print offerings successful on the Italian market despite an overall decline in print magazine circulation with participants today at the FIPP World Congress in Rome.

As a daughter company of Cairo Communication, Cairo Editore was established in 2003 with a focus on launching new print magazines. Between 2003 and 2013, against the backdrop of general economic hardship, the company launched two monthly, two biweekly and seven weekly magazines, currently selling two million copies on the newsstand in Italy – 20 per cent of the entire newsstand sales of 10 million copies sold in the country.

Cairo outlined four “pillars” that presently support the success of the company’s print ventures. The first is the talent at the helm. “You cannot launch a magazine if you don’t have the right editor in chief. The only possibility to achieve success in the publishing business, in my experience, is to have the right editor in chief who will build the right newsroom and all together they will produce the right magazine,” Cairo said. “The right editor in chief is fundamental.”

The second essential component of success, according to Cairo, is competitive pricing. The company prices its newsstand copies at just one euro, which has allowed it to quickly gain a share of Italy’s mature and competitive print market. “We prefer to sell our magazine for one euro than to bind it with another magazine. We try never to raise the price of the magazine, because if you break one euro, you lose a lot of copies. Binding devaluates the magazine as a free copy together with another magazine,” Cairo said.

Thirdly, and tying into the pricing strategy, is cost control. The result: 750,00 copies sold within 10 months of launch.

The last pillar is strong magazine promotion: only if the magazine is promoted heavily will people know about it.  

But while all of the above strategies are indeed important, at the centre of the business is the magazine itself: high-quality content, colours and liveliness. “The pillar of our strategy is the editor in chief, competitive pricing, cost control and heavy promotion, but at the centre is the content of the magazine itself,” Cairo said. “We try to protect our magazines from the temptation to make a 20 percent margin on our revenues. We don’t want to give in to this temptation, because if you exaggerate, you will make money today but tomorrow you will lose the magazine.”

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