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Stylist celebrates 500th issue with digital mag launch: 'We can’t print enough'


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

March 13, 2020 | 4 min read

Stylist, the UK’s freely distributed magazine, is to adopt an emag to supplement its physical run. “We can’t print enough for the demand,” Ella Dolphin chief executive of Stylist Group tells The Drum.

Stylist celebrates issue 500 with digital mag launch: 'We can’t print enough'

Stylist celebrates issue 500 with digital mag launch: 'We can’t print enough'

Stylist launched in 2009 as part of the established Shortlist Group. However, the group rebranded after Stylist back in January 2019 upon the closure of Shortlist. The male market was harder-to-break despite Shortlist pioneering the free-to-market distribution chain across the UK.

In the year since Stylist has hosted empowering conversations about modern women, launched awards and events and shown, all seemingly more fertile for advertising spend. Shortlist only made 552 issues in 11 years. Stylist is catching up and will soon hit 500 - as a result, it is ready to expand its audience greater than before.

Previously Dolphin told The Drum that “paper is like gold” when probed on the possibility of extending the print run. It would be unlikely it could court more advertiser revenue to subsidise an expansion beyond its 400k a week run across London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham, select venues, offices and gyms.

Meanwhile online provides cost-effective real estate to expand the audience, if new audiences are willing to consume there.

Dolphin said: “ now reaches 2.5m people every month and they often want the magazine, so we are publishing a digital version for all those who aren’t able to pick up a physical copy.”

The magazine, published every Wednesday will be accessible through Apple News, Readly and the Stylist app. There’s a test and learn approach on these platforms, and Dolphin’s careful to make any grand readership predictions but predicts a “significant” increase in the “tens of thousands” after a time.

Of course, in the land of print, the word digital sets off alarm bells. Many top titles have shuttered in recent years. Dolphin said: “Print is so important. We can’t print enough for the demand and its integral to the brand and the business. It works for advertisers and consumers love it.”

The move has been a long time coming. For Stylist, there’s been a real education in optimising its print run for online at pace, across multiple platforms, in a cost-effective manner. It is a fortunate coincidence that this long development process ends as the coronavirus threatens a potential shut down of the UK. Nonetheless, Stylist is opening up online at a time when its distribution in high footfall points is under threat.

Dolphin said: “The digital edition was not linked to coronavirus. The technology has improved, Apple News + is a great partner and we have had overwhelming demand building over the last 12 months for a digital version because most people who want it can’t get their hands on the print edition. I’m sure changes to working habits will encourage more digital downloads."

Stylist's website and social channels reach 3.5 million fans and readers. You can expect these channels to drive more eyes to its hero product, the magazine, in the coming months.

And with it being the 500th issue, Stylist is celebrating with a takeover from Olympians and Paralympians past and present, in celebration of the upcoming Tokyo Games.

The brand has a history making waves on its big anniversaries. It marked issue 100 by asking readers to create every page, issue 200 was made by celebrities, 300 by MPs and 400 by robots.

This time around, eight athletes including Katarina Johnson-Thompson discuss their inner strength, Jessica Ennis-Hill tackles sexism in sport, rugby champion Heather Fisher discusses her struggle with alopecia and there’s a Japanese afternoon tea review from Dame Kelly Holmes.

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