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Magazine and retailer partnerships increase in Q2

Although it’s not unheard of for magazines to partner up with retailers in an effort to maximize brand value, the practice became something of a magazine industry theme in the second quarter of 2012. At the very least, an uptick in the number of magazines getting their designer on was more than evident.

In April, multichannel retailer HSN paired up with House Beautiful magazine and debuted the House Beautiful Marketplace, an online destination offering home furnishing items, as well as other trendy décor items. Primarily targeting women, Southern Living Magazine and home décor retailer Ballard Designs launched a seasonal line of tabletop products for the summer, from glass cake domes to wooden beverage tags. In September, a holiday collection will also launch.

Not to be outdone by all this women targeting, Cosmopolitan magazine teamed up with JCPenney and is slated for a fall launch that will include bags, lingerie, jewelry and accessories. But these partnerships aren’t limited to products for just women. GQ magazine partnered with Nordstrom this summer, handpicking items from the store’s menswear that appears in the magazine each month and on the website in a special section called GQ Selects. Mirroring this, Nordstrom has also created a GQ Selects section on their website where consumers can purchase the GQ approved items. And on the rugged end of living, Bonnier’s Outdoor Life will debut a clothing line for men in conjunction with Sears this fall.

But finding the perfect retail match isn’t a cakewalk because it’s vital that both companies have the same vision and goals, noted Sean Holzman, chief brand development officer at Bonnier. “Sears and Outdoor Life are a perfect match, both are heritage brands and are part of American culture,” he said. “Outdoor Life and Sears demographics are mirror images. Sears provides Outdoor Life with a national footprint with over 800 locations across the country. The benefit for Outdoor Life is we can reach our audience with magazines, online, video, television, events and now at Sears with our branded products.”

Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group, said she expects these sorts of partnerships to continue as magazines get creative with the practice of blending editorial and product sales. “It’s another avenue to explore for ad dollars. You can only have so many print ads in one issue and that’s not bringing in enough money,” she said. “Some retailers have their own catalogues, which allows editors to go in and put their name next to products they’ve ‘approved’ to help retailers move that product.”

In the third quarter it will be interesting to see what retailers and magazines will be selling next. One thing is for sure, the industry needs more than just good editorial to keep it afloat, and magazines are maximizing on that notion.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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