How to survive in the digital age?
Written by: Lisa van Winden
Student Number: 319101
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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).
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 (http://cosmoofficial.hyves.nl/). 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 (http://twitter.com/CosmopolitanNL 2010).
The official website is filled with interesting content (http://www.cosmopolitan.nl
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.
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.
But there are other developments in technology. A great example is the research
project from the company Bonnier (www.bonnier.com). 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
the original format keeps excisting, many people find it more nice to read a
magazine on paper than on a digital device.
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,
www.koreatimes.co.kr 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 (www.koreatimes.co.kr 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%.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
The company Bonnier researched the posibility to read magazines on a digital
device, the mag+.
The website from Cosmopolitan and for readers
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