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“Condé Nast identified a new source of revenue”: Vogue Business now launches on WeChat in China

The internet and digitization have made international expansion easier for publishers. The New York Times, the Guardian and The Financial Times among others, already have sizable and paying international audiences. 

While selling digital subscriptions is one way of doing it, Condé Nast has literally gone where its audience is. This week, the publisher launched its B2B product, Vogue Business in China on the leading Chinese messaging platform WeChat.

The product will publish daily industry news and analysis on WeChat in English and simplified Chinese. Readers can expect coverage of how cultural shifts affect retail; how technological innovation is changing the way brands make and sell clothes; and how issues, from climate change to geopolitics, impact Chinese production and consumption. 

After the successful global launch of Vogue Business, we are excited to start this Chinese-language community for our readers in China, the world’s most important fashion and luxury market. For professional readers, we want to be the definitive source to understand regional and global trends across the fashion, beauty and luxury industries and what they mean for the success of Chinese businesses.

Wolfgang Blau, COO & President, International, Condé Nast

“New source of revenue outside advertising”

Vogue Business in China builds on the success of Vogue Business, which was launched in January 2019 as Condé Nast’s first global B2B publication. It’s published as a bi-weekly email newsletter that features analysis, interpretive journalism, exclusive stories and data visualizations. The product also has its own website (voguebusiness.com), Instagram account (@voguebusiness) and LinkedIn page.

“Condé Nast identified a new source of revenue outside advertising. The company reaches 459M people across all its brands, with Vogue the biggest brand in their portfolio. So it made sense to use Vogue as a guinea pig. We came up with the name Vogue Business, because you know it means fashion and it means business,” said Lauren Indvik, Chief Editor of Vogue Business at the Digital Innovators’ Summit (DIS) 2019.

The move represents an exciting brand extension for Condé Nast. At a time when other major international publishers are seeking to future-proof revenues through new endeavors such as media and marketing services, or niche events businesses, this B2B focus allows the Vogue brand to do what it does best in a complementary space.

Jamie Gavin, Managing Director of inPress Online

When asked about revenue models, Indvik told FIPP, “In terms of the business plan we are not planning a substantial advertising business. Furthermore, the advertisers that we will partner with will not be endemic, so we’re not going after anyone in the fashion industry or anything that would compete with our existing Vogues. 

“I can’t talk too much about the business model, but we are going into areas that you would naturally expect. How do we help people find their next job? How do we help companies find the best talent? Membership, events, subscriptions – those are all things that we’re looking at.”

33% of the global fashion, beauty and luxury industry market

Vogue Business currently reaches an audience of senior professionals across 39 markets worldwide and is on track to gain 100,000 newsletter subscribers in less than a year. Vogue Business in China may very well lead to a spike in these figures as it aims to cater to China’s over 6M fashion professionals on the massively popular WeChat. 

The messaging platform has a daily user base of over a billion—only Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger can claim a greater share of global usage. 

Source: Statista

While I’m awake, I spend about 80-90% of my time on WeChat — much more than on Instagram or Weibo.

Yuwei Zhangzou, Shanghai-based fashion blogger and influencer with 250K+ followers on WeChat

Condé Nast has already tasted success on WeChat in China via GQ. The magazine’s official WeChat account in China, GQ Lab, is currently the most followed public account on the platform with 2.55 million followers daily. A sponsored story on the account could cost as much as 1.3M yuan ($188,890), reports China Daily. 

Last year, GQ Lab published about 280 articles with over 100K views. It collaborated with over 200 brands and earned 200M+ RMB, becoming China’s top-earning account.

Moreover, China is one of the most important consumer markets with a dynamic and growing fashion, beauty and luxury industry. It accounts for 33% of the global market, and is expected to climb to 41% by 2025. China is also the world’s largest textile manufacturer, all of which makes it a key player in the global fashion industry. 

“Designed for maximum impact and accessibility”

Condé Nast has a strong presence in China with eight media brands which include three market-specific Vogue offerings – Vogue Me and Vogue Film. 

According to the publisher, “the new platform will harness this local expertise and perspective in addition to insights from 31 market editorial teams – from Paris to Madrid to Mumbai – and the global network of brands – Vogue, GQ, Condé Nast Traveller and AD – fashion and luxury experts, industry leaders and business partners.”

Vogue Business in China’s content is designed for maximum impact and accessibility, making it easy to understand key ideas at a glance, and to enable fashion leaders to make decisions that will grow and future-proof their businesses and careers. 

Imin Pao, Editorial Director, Vogue Business in China

The title will look to broaden its influence through a number of new avenues beyond delivering news – including workshops, an annual report, bespoke content and partnerships. It will partner exclusively with LinkedIn China, and collaborate with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and IPSOS through strategic partnerships.

“Keep that momentum up”

For publishers considering a similar strategy, Ciara Byrne, Director of Business Development at Condé Nast suggests, “There is a tendency in all sectors to try to produce a perfect product. We’ve all seen those projects that linger and linger or have lost momentum entirely. When they’re finally ready to launch, it turns out they’d made assumptions at the very start that turned out to be wrong. Getting the product into real customers’ hands as soon as possible to test those assumptions is crucial.”

It’s been amazing having that habit of talking to customers from the start. Eight weeks after launching Vogue Business we did a big survey and got amazing feedback that’s been so intrinsic to us setting up the next phase. My favorite was after the story on Golden Week in China, where a reader said, “I’ve just changed my marketing budgets just because of the piece.”

Ciara Byrne, Director of Business Development at Condé Nast

She adds, “Make sure that you’ve done real customer research. Make sure there is really money in it, which is sometimes overlooked. You might say, ‘Oh, it’s a $50B industry’ with no clear idea how you will add value. Then finally, the Sheryl Sandberg thing. ‘Done is better than perfect.’ Do something, move on. Keep that momentum up.”

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