This year, Glamour Poland celebrates its 20th anniversary. At FIPP Congress 2023, the brand’s editor-in-chief Katarzyna Dabrowska explained how their enduring success relies on their ability to speak to, represent and inspire their Gen-Z audience.
A young woman crouches on the cover of Glamour. She’s wearing a lilac hoodie, cycling shorts, trainers. She has her hair slicked back and bold, graphic eyeliner, a tattoo on her left calf. She’s a classic Gen-Z girl. So what’s so special about her?
This is Wero, and she’s Glamour Poland’s first ever virtual cover star, created digitally over a period of six months. “Every single detail of her appearance was important, from her shape, to her makeup, to the tattoo on her leg,” Katarzyna Dabrowska told the FIPP Congress audience, “but her personality was important as well. Wero is an activist – she cares about the planet, she fights for women’s rights. She is the archetypal Glamour girl.” Readers can also read an interview with her, and even listen to her on their podcast.
This cover is one of many ways Glamour Poland is striving to meet the needs and demands of their audience in innovative ways. And, Katarzyna says, there was a ‘huge buzz’ on social media about their cover star – as there was with their ‘stereotype breaking’ animated cover featuring Polish artist Ralph. “He’s wearing women’s clothes and singing – he’s encouraging readers to be themselves, be brave, and cultivate a unique style,” said Katarzyna. Yet another cover features an influencer and body positivity warrior naked, makeup-free and untouched photographically. “This inspired our users to post their own photos on social media showing their ‘flaws’ – we are reflecting the issues that matter to them.”
For Gen-Z, Glamour Poland’s target audience, authenticity is fundamentally important. “They believe in being authentic and unique, and creating individuality on their own terms – and they are looking to us as a media brand to support that,” she says. They also have a different relationship with consumerism. “They understand that brands are nothing without consumers, and they understand that they hold the power in that relationship. Yet for them, products are not status symbols, so they are not as interested in collecting ‘things’ – they are more interested in experiences.”
Despite their shifting relationship with conscious consumption, Katarzyna said, the ease of purchasing online still inspires them to shop. And this is something their brand has incorporated into their offering. With Wero, readers were able to scan a QR code on the cover to virtually try on and purchase her trainers; by sharing clothing as shown on Poland’s Top Model – with which Glamour has had an 11-season partnership – the magazine “guides the audience from inspiration to shopping.”
On the other hand, sustainable fashion is important to the Polish Glamour girl, and the Glamour team have used this as an opportunity both to promote eco-consciousness and partner with their audience’s favourite brands. A collaboration with H&M saw the creation of the Rewear Market event, where readers were encouraged to donate old clothes, accessories and home textiles to be sold on and given a second life. Used clothes were even the ‘entrance ticket’ to the event.
The five Rewear Market events they have hosted so far have been a huge success, according to Katarzyna – both for the business and for their brand image. “It meant we were able to show our audience that we don’t just write about ecology and sustainable fashion, we actually do things that matter,” she said.
More from the FIPP Congress:
- How TMB is combining innovation with 100-year-old values for success in the media landscape
- “We are the original storytellers of what is newsworthy”: Juan Señor calls on media companies to have confidence in an AI-driven landscape
- Part of History: How National Geographic Historia is bucking print trends across continents
- Shirish Kulkarni on the power of diversity and inclusion and how D&I drives innovation in media
- The art of creating a compelling political podcast: lessons from Zeit Online’s “Das Politikteil”
Their goal as a brand, Katarzyna said, is to reach that younger generation and gain their trust. “Gen-Z is the most valuable audience, but at the same time the most difficult to attract and keep,” she said. Understanding their values is key. “They consider themselves activists, open to fighting for what they believe in. They care about the planet, and are aware of what’s going on in the world. They are looking to us for guidance, and seek community. And of course as digital natives, their devices are their tools for exploring the world – which is why it is why we meet our audience when and where they need us.”
As well as the print and digital magazines, and virtual and in-person events, Glamour also has several podcasts and a huge social media following. Their website has 160 million views per month. Katarzyna puts their success down to clear brand DNA. “I truly believe that building and understanding the DNA of your brand – and making that part of everything you do – is of key importance if you want to successfully operate in the modern media market,” she says. “We are all competing not only with the media, but also with influencers and every single account on social media. It is by responding to our readers’ needs that we gain both their trust, and their engagement.”