Luxury outlets adjust to the new economic reality

The recent decision by Time Inc. to discontinue its luxury-themed Style & Design supplement is evidence that while the rich may be different, they're not immune to the current economic recession.

In the news
The recent decision by Time Inc. to discontinue its luxury-themed Style & Design supplement is evidence that while the rich may be different, they're not immune to the current economic recession.

As a consequence, luxury media outlets have had to adjust to a new reality of fewer ad pages, though most seem to be hanging on.

"The luxury industry has been impacted, but there's still a viable market," says Bruce Wallin, SVP of editorial for CurtCo, publisher of luxury-focused Robb Report. "It's the more aspirational market that has seen the most declines, and though it might come back eventually, it might not be for a while."

Why does it matter?
Wallin suggests luxury media editors are now more wary of marketing-driven claims, such as "seven star" hotels that aren't backed up on the service and product end. "People are going back to established luxury brands," he adds. "You are seeing less bling and wow factor and more emphasis on the connoisseur factor, such as cars that are for collectors."

PR firms representing luxury clients must now be more strategic not only in which outlets they target, but what their pitches emphasize, says Elizabeth Harrison, cofounder and principal with New York-based Harrison & Shriftman.

"What is resonating now with these magazines are story ideas that focus on products, locations, and services that are still luxurious and expensive, but also provide great value and differentiation," she adds.

Three facts:
1. Over the past year, Condé Nast has closed a number of high-end titles, including Domino and Gourmet

2. The Financial Times recently launched an online version of How to Spend It (above), a sign that luxury goods companies are boosting their Web presence

3. WSJ, The Wall Street Journal's luxury magazine, had an editorial package on the "changed state of luxury" in its September issue

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