Vogue's much-awaited September issue — its Fall Fashion Blockbuster — comes out soon. Readers can always count on plenty of ads. But this time look for an unlikely partnership: the magazine will feature ads from Target. Target is trying to distance itself from discount retailing (see Lilly Pulitzer craze). And Vogue is following the money, tapping into a new demographic. Both get the golden ticket in advertising: mounds and mounds of customer data.
When was the last time you picked up a copy of Vogue? Simon Ungless, executive director of the fashion school at Academy of Art University, says it was probably the last time a copy happened to be in front of you.
"Really, the biggest percentage of the people that look at it are everyday regular people going to the doctor, and there's a copy of it there in the doctor's waiting room," he says.
Vogue does publish more than a million copies. But magazines in general have been hurting. So Ungless says it makes sense that a consumer-driven publication with hundreds of pages of ads to fill would look to Target. Elizabeth Wissinger teaches fashion studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She says the Target-Vogue deal is not that weird.
"The dividing lines between how we're going to get high-end luxury goods versus mass-produced items is blurred," she says.
Technology makes the connection between Vogue and Target very direct. Readers can scan a code on the ad page and go right to a "buy now" button. Ari Lightman, who teaches digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, says that's gold.
"Target's a very voracious consumer of data," he says.
Also, Target wants to reach into Vogue readers' deeper pockets. And Vogue gets to say to advertisers, "Hey, look, people aren't just seeing your ads — they're buying stuff." To understand how big that is, Lightman says look no farther than his 14-year-old daughter. She bought a fashion magazine during a recent vacation.
"She's reading the magazine with her phone in her hand," he says.
Now consumers who are all about instant gratification can go from seeing something to owning it a lot faster.
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