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From Beauty to Business April 17, 2007

Posted by Kira in advertising, First Mover, Liability of Newness.
1 comment so far

My first choice for a summer internship is at Conde Nast.  Therefore, I was especially interested to learn more about the debut of its new publication, Portfolio. The headline in today’s New York Times entitled “In a Troubled Time, a New Business Magazine” caught my eye.  The article happens to be about Conde Nast’s new business magazine called Portfolio.  The magazine is an “unmistakable stablemate of Conde Nast’s Vogue and Vanity Fair.”  According to the publisher David Carey, Conde Nast wants to “capture the glamour” in their new business magazine.  The company first announced that they would put out a business magazine, its biggest single investment in a start-up, in September of 2005 when many other magazines such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Fortune were having trouble.  Traditional business magazines have had trouble communicating the excitement in the realm of business to its readers.  The chairman of Conde Nast states in the article that he doesn’t think that Portfolio is “going to trample on Forbes or Fortune.  I think we’re going to help the whole field.  We’re going to bring excitement to it, and we’re going to bring luxury and fashion advertisers into it.” 

The article also mentions that Kurt Eichenwald, the author of my Theorize This book, has been hired to write for the magazine.  Also, the magazine’s website managing editor said it expects that its bloggers will post three and five times a day- just another example of where to find more people blogging about business!

With the positive response from business articles in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, I think a new start-up business magazine is a great idea for Conde Nast.  At a time when other business magazines are having trouble, Portfolio may be wise to enter into the market since competition may be less than usual.  Adding excitement and fashion into a business magazine may prove to be a great first-mover advantage for the company.  With many other successful magazines that Conde Nast publishes, the company already has an established structure and relationship with suppliers and customers that will be to their advantage with their new magazine. 

However, there are always associated liabilities of newness with first-mover advantages.  People may not like the idea of reading a business magazine that is combined with fashion and luxury. I think with Conde Nast’s reputation as a company that is a publishing powerhouse they will sign up many subscribers- both existing and new.  If the new magazine does fall victim to the liabilities of newness, Conde Nast has so many other magazine lines that it should not really impact the company that much.  This reminds me of a generalist strategy- if the business magazine does not succeed, then Conde Nast still has all of their beauty, fashion, and fitness magazines to rely on.  

I personally get bored of reading plain cut and dry business magazines and I am excited to see the first issue of Portfolio.  What is your reaction to this non-traditional business magazine?  Would you read it, why or why not?  Do you think this will be more of a first-mover advantage or liability of newness for Conde Nast?