In a media world where print has seen a pivot to online and a retrenchment from analog, Hearst's VERANDA magazine is taking a bold step. As it celebrates its 35th anniversary, the publication has gone through a redesign, which debuted with the May/June 2022 print issue -- the title's largest since 2008.
"I am thrilled for the opportunity to make the most of what we do best -- lush visual storytelling backed by substance -- with this larger format," announced Steele Marcoux, VERANDA's Editor in Chief.
Why the revamp? "It's all about delivering more value to our consumers who prefer print," Marcoux said. "Our aim was to make the magazine an overall more luxurious and immersive experience for our readers, with a product aimed to endure."
In order to make the magazine more immersive, the new version is half an inch wider with at least 40% more pages in each issue. The layout now includes more full-bleed images and spreads.
With this move, VERANDA is embracing the world of luxury print, making the magazine more like a cherished coffee-table book and encouraging readers to spend more quality time with each issue. "Our loyal audience provided clear feedback that they wanted to see more, particularly when it came to us incorporating larger imagery," Marcoux noted. "Our goal was to deliver our readers more of what they actually loved so much: a mix of immersive visuals backed by substance."
The editorial team worked hard to choose themes and ideas that bring VERANDA's unique brand point of view to life. "The spaces and places we feature are warm, inviting and full of personality," he added.
Part of the inspiration for the pivot was the pandemic. As Marcoux explained, "It made everyone value 'home' in a new way." That, and a plan to deliver more tactile experiences and time away from screens, formed the redesign action plan.
"One of the things I love most about VERANDA is how consistent it has been over the last 35 years," Marcoux said. "Technology has evolved, of course, and that's reflected in our photography. But the types of home environments have remained steady. We've always sought to feature the very best. We've never limited ourselves to a certain style. And we've always valued bold, personality-filled design above all else."
The recovery from the pandemic has fueled a great resurgence in the luxury market with growth in that well-established ad category. The payoff among advertisers has been immediate, said David Hamilton, Vice President of Sales of the Hearst Design Collection (which includes ELLE DECOR, House Beautiful and VERANDA). "The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and the only surprise is how quickly we've seen some advertisers jump in with more second-half activity," he explained. "As the saying goes, there's always money for a good idea."
The benefits to advertisers were carefully considered. "We have restored an ideal ad-to-edit ratio, so the book has a good balance of editorial content and marketing messages that readers love," Hamilton said. "Advertisers, like readers, want strong magazines. We got a comment from a very long-term advertiser who wanted to see more lush images of beautiful homes, and we really took it to heart. We love storytelling, but we need space for both the visuals and the text. And, of course, advertisers keep an eye on editorial credits, and larger images draw more positive comments."
For Hamilton, the best advertiser feedback came from a client who had taken a hiatus. "We presented the plans for the redesign, and her reaction was effusive," he noted. "She had assumed that our big news would be something digital, and she was thrilled to learn that we were bringing change to print. Innovation doesn't have to mean digital and print still defines luxury."
The target consumer and categories covered remain constant, he further explained. "The core advertising business for VERANDA comes from a broad swath of the home furnishings market. What they have in common is the affluence of the end-user."
VERANDA has traditionally delivered lifestyle coverage that focused on design, style and gracious living in general and encompassed categories like jewelry and watches as well as travel. "We know from reader feedback, as well as product sales, the audience responds to these stories, so we wanted to give even more space to these topics without compromising the beautiful home and decorating content that is VERANDA's calling card," Hamilton said. "Of course, the redesign required a great deal of strategizing on the business side, but it was really undertaken with the reader in mind."
The move by VERANDA could become a motivator for other Hearst publications. "Hearst is a print-proud company that is always looking for ways to serve the reader and advertiser," he concluded. "The company will continue to lead the way into the future of media on every platform, whether print, digital, video or whatever comes next, and VERANDA is a case study in this constant mission."
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