Return of the magalogue and death of the car

‘Magalogues’ is a clunky term that I really didn’t think I’d hear again. It was frequently bandied around in the early 1990s by mail order companies who liked the idea of mixing attractive editorial content with their products.


Somebody say magalogue?

It didn’t really work as the cost of printing these magalogues, with their non-revenue-generating column inches, was prohibitively expensive. Mail order companies had to sweat their printed assets in those days.

It was therefore interesting to hear lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, mention at the World Retail Congress (WRC) in Paris the fact that her very successful magazines are becoming more like catalogues – and these hybrids she called magalogues.

America’s style icon says everything in these publications is effectively for sale as the “confluence of media and products” continues apace. This trend began online where the unlimited ‘virtual pages’ of the internet meant the cost of putting glossy editorial around products was no longer unacceptably expensive.

The likes of Asos and Net-A-Porter have built their businesses around this mixing of content and products-for-sale. To this end they – along with a growing number of online fashion businesses – have employed an increasing number of writers and editorial personnel to help them sell their goods.

Such content is proving to be a key driver of online traffic. Certainly the provision of high quality editorial around the branded products offered on the site of flash sales pioneer Vente Privee was acknowledged by its founder and CEO Jacques-Antoine Granjon at the WRC as a traffic driver for the business.

This virtual online traffic is becoming increasingly important to retailers as e-commerce threatens their store portfolios. Granjon points to the fact parents are giving smart-phones to their children at an ever-younger age – “at birth” – which is undoubtedly accelerating the online trend.

Such is the impact of online traffic and commerce that Dr Ira Kalish, chief global economist at Deloitte, delivered a startling slide at the WRC that revealed car mileage for the the first time ever in the US is going down.

Shopping at home – combined with an ageing population and an increased number of people working from their homes – have seen the car-loving US population abandon their vehicles in meaningful numbers for the first time since the automobile was invented.

Kalish reckons this has massive implications for retailers and is a trend that will not be going away any time soon. With Americans ditching car travel and Martha Stewart uttering the word magalogue these truly are revolutionary times for the world of retail.