Hearst Magazines International CEO encourages optimism at FIPP Congress

“Unless we are number one and we are fulfilling consumer expectations, the job is not done, so we are constantly looking at ways to improve the quality of our product,” said Duncan Edwards, president and CEO Hearst Magazines International, USA, today at FIPP’s Congress in Rome.

Edwards gave several reasons to remain optimistic about the magazine industry with both print and digital. The main strategic objectives to be aware of are: look after what you already have, constantly search for efficiency, do as much as possible with your assets, and pivot towards a more digital future.

Edwards stresses the importance of encouraging managers to pay attention to all of the brands that they have. Managers must resist the temptation to focus on the new, while ignoring the need to create quality magazines overall.

On a local, regional and global level, companies are constantly looking for, and achieving, cost reduction through consolidation where they can. They are experimenting with new ways of selling advertising and looking to drive down supplier prices. In searching for constant efficiency, brands have to think very carefully about where they want to be owners, equity investors, and where they are happy to be licensors.

While digital is growing very fast, Edwards recommended that brands do more with their assets. Hearst Magazines International is continuing to launch magazines internationally. Additionally, all of the new editions are off to a great start, doing  better than expected. In an effort to make use of their assets, Hearst has created entirely new titles, created global advertising sales networks, and a global licensing deal with IMG.

Most companies have some experience of developing new products, but according to Edwards, as an industry we are really only at the starting gates. “With these incredibly well-known, well-loved brands, which have such strong consumer equity, if we can’t develop new businesses around our core products, then shame on us,” he said.

“There’s no doubt consumer habits are changing,” Edwards said. “For us to be relevant in their lives, we have to be where they are, when they’re there and in a format they want. The speed in which we make that change has to be accelerated.”

Edwards concluded with saying that “this is one of the most exciting times ever in the history of consumer media and is a time to be very optimistic.”

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