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Research Proposal


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A research proposal about Glossies. Made for an assignment for the Erasmus University in Rotterdam

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Research Proposal

  1. 1. Research Proposal Glossy Magazines Sanoma Uitgevers Cosmopolitan Sofie Spindler How to survive in the digital age? 1 Written by: Lisa van Winden Student Number: 319101 1
  2. 2. Management Summary In this research proposal it is researched what is the current position of glossy magazines in this digital age. People are shifting from printed tot digital media, but it seems that a large part of the population is still reading the printed version. It is shown that the interest of the population is shifting with the rise of internet. They tend to spent more time on the internet and less time on other media. The time spend on printed media has decreased to, but not as much as other ways to spent your leisure time on. Beside the rise of the internet, there are also other changes, like the development of the E-paper and the Mag+ on which magazines can be readed digital, with the reading quality of a magazine. The Cosmopolitan should see the digital changes as an extend of their content. It can be used to gain more advertisement income, and to attract new readers. Digital devices can be used in the future to read magazines, but it is not likely that it will mean the end of the paper magazine. 2
  3. 3. Contents Introduction to the subject...........................................................P. 4 The Present.................................................................................. P. 5 The Future.................................................................................... P. 7 The Proposal................................................................................ P. 11 Empirical Research…………………………………………………. P. 12 Financial Proposal………………………………………………….. P. 13 Literature…………………………………………………………… P. 14 3
  4. 4. Introduction In this research proposal a suggestion is given about how glossy magazines, in this case, the cosmopolitan, can change their policy to better adapt to the changes in the digital era. The question that it is focussed on is: In this digital era should the structure of the classic magazine format change along the digital developments? The answer to this question will be answered in two parts; the present and the future. In the past it is shown how magazines used to react to changes in technology. In the present it is shown how the sales react to changes in technology. And in the end it is shown what are the recent developments, and what that will bring to the future. Also now there are new techniques but they can’t be used already. Also internet had a big influence on the glossies. Information is now much better available to everyone, and mostly for free. This influence is also spoken about. At the end I will give a recommendation for research or policy changes, also it shows an idea of the costs it will bring with it. We first start with the current position of magazines. 4
  5. 5. The present To have a clear view of the current state of the sells of magazines, we will first look at some numbers. It is important to see where people give their leisure time to. With the better reach of internet it is almost easier to just look it up there. But with prited media you can’t just accept that assumption. The way people react is different at every age, gender and nationality (The Medium is the Message, PWC 2008). In this time of economic and technological developments (the current state of the economy can’t be looked as good) it is impossible that the society will not be influenced. The use of internet made a huge change in the world. Also political changes influenced the the economy and thereby the internet, and the importance of this (Lister, 2003: 165-176). ‘In other words the Internet came into existence as the result of numerous factors, accidents, passions, collisions and tensions’ (Lister, 2003: 163). If we look at how people spent their time it is good to look at the graph below. It shows how people spent their time between the computer (and with this the internet), Printed media, radio and television. 5
  6. 6. It is shown that the internet is increasing after 1990, and keeps doing that. Television is increasing until the year 2000 and printed media stays quite the same, with a little bit of decrease. The rise of internet does mean that magazines gain more advertisment income. The Europe magazines estimated that they will gain 10% of there advertising income through internet (The Medium is the Message, PWC 2008). Internet Danger Not only the fact that people have a new way to spent their time on internet is a problem, also the content is important. On the internet you can find many blogs about cosmetics, fashion, trends and so on. It is written by ordinary people and it fits into the budget of the costumer. On the other hand, glossy magazines portray celebrities with endless resources (C. Lauw, 2009). This information can also be found in the content of glossies, but the huge advantage of the blogs is that it’s more up-to-date, it can be changed at any time. The disadvantage is that it isn’t most of the time wrote by professionals. So the quantity increases while the quality decreases. What is Cosmopolitan doing about this? Cosmopolitan is active around the internet. They keep up a Hyves with more than 1400 members ( Hyves is a good way to represent the company, it is for young people, it is easy to change and you can adress many people with it. With this the disadvantage of not being the first with news is now of less importance, because it is easy to update. With this kind of sites it is great to build a brand image for a company (Jody Nimetz, 2007). But if you take a quick look at the site it is shown that the messages from ‘readers’ are most of all advertisements to other sites. Cosmopolitan also keeps a Twitter account. Each country has their own accounts ( 2010). The official website is filled with interesting content ( 2010). On the ‘Home’ site it is shown various articles which are also printed in the magazine. But only a part of it is available, so if you want to read the whole article, you need to buy the magazine. This is a very smart way of using the internet as an extend of the printed version. It is also possible to react to stories of other readers, this makes the magazine very interactive. 6
  7. 7. The Future With the digital developments it seems almost impossible that the format of the magazines are not going to be influenced by this changes. The earlier rise of internet is often seen by a threat to the original magazine format, but as showed earlier, this doesn’t have to be the case, it could be an extend of the format. Mag + But there are other developments in technology. A great example is the research project from the company Bonnier ( They invented the Mag +. This is a digital device to read magazines. It almost looks like an e-reader but for magazines. It shows high quality writing and the images are of an amazing quality. But the question is if the world is ready for this device. It is likely that the price of the Mag + will be rather high, especially in the beginning. But because they only made a prototype it is not possible to give a good price prediction. Magazines are popular because it is cheap, you can buy you favorite magazine for approximately 3 euros, so are the costumers willing to pay a high first price? It can be assumed that the price they then need to pay for their magazines will be lower. The Mag+ looks like this: It is important that magazines are ready for this development. If this will be a succes, it is of significance that they will adapt to the changes. It will be also important that 7
  8. 8. the original format keeps excisting, many people find it more nice to read a magazine on paper than on a digital device. E-Paper Another development is the E-paper. This is a storage divice and display medium. It can be repeatedly writen on and re-used. You can download de information through an internet or mobile phone connection. The unusual aspect about this is, is that the E-paper really looks like paper and act like this. This makes It easy to read. This device is still in development. There was a device on the market, but it is not yet available for everyone (The Medium is the Message, PWC 2008). The company LG has introduced their version on the E- paper. It is about the size of a tabloid newspaper, and it is made with the best new techniques. It is also a bendable screen, which is only 0.3 millimeters think. With this new development, and with the wide range of possibility to buy, it is espected that other companies will folow with this product. The big advantage of this product is that it is up to date, and it can be strengthened by video and other multi media features. This new E-paper will however be more applicable for news papers, due to the size and the fact that it gives the latest news ( 2010). Willingness To Pay It is all thought out well with the new developments. But what are the consumers willing to pay for the kinds of digital devices, or for the printed magazines. PriceWaterHouse Coopers investigated this. In the figure on the next page is shown the percentage of the cost of a printed or digital magazine, which male and female people who responded to the survey are willing to pay. It is asked for digital content and combinations between digital and printed magazines. It is shown that when people only have a digital version of the magazine they would pay less than 50% of the costs for the magazine and with only a version on a mobile device less that 30%. But when there is a combination of a digital and paper version (on E-paper or a mobile device) they are willing to pay almost 60%. 8
  9. 9. PWC The Medium is the Message It seems like the printed magazine are still of big value to the readers. But this is dependent on the age of the user. Another research shows how with the digital devices the young people start high and with getting older it lower, except with electronic papers, which can be clarified by the fact tat newspapers are more read by older people, and with hardcopies. PWC The Medium is the Message 9
  10. 10. It is also important to look at the differend between male and females. In the graph below it is showed that a huge percent of the females (71%) are not willing to pay at all for content which is only available on the internet. It seems not smart for Cosmopolitan to stop with the printed version, because they would lose a lot of costumers then. 10
  11. 11. The Proposal As shown in the research before, the magazines are influenced by the digital developments. This is normal, due to the great impact this change has on the whole of society. It is shown that the degree of impact is depends on different variables, like gender, age and nationality. It is shown that 71% of the females aren’t willing to pay if the content is only published on the internet. It doesn’t seem like the solution to stop with the printed version of the cosmopolitan, because at that moment they will lose a lot of costumers. With the content on the internet, Cosmopolitan is on a good way. It is interactive, there are a lot of media they use, they give free content from the magazine, but not all so viewers will get interested. It is important that the Cosmopolitan invests money to investigate the new devices that are big and booming, like the Mag+ and E-paper. If this new development turns out te be good, it is important that they can provide the magazine to that costumers. Because it is likely, when they have a digital device to read magazines on, they will not buy the magazine on paper because it is not available yet. So Cosmopolitan should keep improving their website, by checking the latest trends on the media area. On the other hand they should keep investigating the new technologies to read the magazine. The printed version is still very important, if you lose this, you will lose a lot of costumers. So it isn’t the solution to switch over to the digital version, it is important that internet is an extend of the paper version, not a substitute. 11
  12. 12. Empirical Research I suggest that investigation will be lead by PriceWaterHouse Coopers. In 2008 they did a big investigation about the future of magazines, and how people were thinking about the digitalization. It is important that this research not get dated. So in 2010 there will be a new survey the same way they did the research in 2008. There also have to be a individual research about the technological changes. This is a market investigation about the changes in technology and when, and with what qualitiy it is presented. When the results are positive it is important that the Cosmopolitan adapts to this changes and make sure they are ready to be more digital available. 12
  13. 13. Financial Proposal PriceWaterHouse Coopers will lead the empirical survey. The average salarie per FTE per employee at PWC is € 67100,-. This is not the costs for the research. The estimated costs for the empirical research are at an hourly rate: Senior Researcher € 90,00 To assume he will spent an estimated 90 hours on the investigation, the total cost wil be: € 8100 ,-. For the technological research, these are the estimated hourly rates: Junior Researcher € 50,- Medior Researcher € 70,- Senior Researcher €120,- They will spent an estimated time of 180 hours on the research. 13
  14. 14. Literature Lister, M., J. Dovey, S. Giddings, I. Grant & K. Kelly. 2009. New Media. A critical Introduction. Second Edition . London, Routledge, 2009. Nimetz, Jody. "Jody Nimetz on Emerging Trends in B2B Social Networking". Marketing Jive, November 18, 2007. Investigation by PriceWaterHouse Coopers: Is the Medium Still the Message? The Future of Magazine Publishing publishing.pdf The news about a new E-Paper, released by LG Checked on january 14, 2010. Research about how people use their leisure time, investigated by Sociaal Cultural Planbureau The company Bonnier researched the posibility to read magazines on a digital device, the mag+. The website from Cosmopolitan and for readers 14
  15. 15. Reflection I think the research proposal has a good lay-out, which is simple but does fit with the style of Glossy Magazines, in this case the Cosmopolitan. It was hard to give real tips, because of the good internet use of Cosmopolitan. The investigation from PriceWaterhouse Coopers was a big help because of the great graphs and the applicability of the research to this proposal. It was propably better if there were a bit more sources about this subject, but these were hard to find. At my opinion the financial and empirical proposal could be a little bit longer. But I think I gave a good summary of the current and future changes in the world of magazine publising. 15