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British online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter announces PORTER magazine: a niche of one's own

British online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter announces PORTER magazine: a niche of one's own

As most of us see the fashion world, the industry’s boundaries are impervious, confining each actor in a core activity in which it aims to succeed. In this view, fashion publishers create impeccable print magazines with A-lister cover girls, while retailers and e-tailers concentrate on selling clothes, through either brick and mortar, or online stores, or both. These silos are to be opened up with the global launch of PORTER magazine by online retailer Net-A-Porter on February 7. Sixty countries will have newsstand copies of the glossy magazine six times a year; whereas worldwide fashionistas will be able to subscribe to the digital version starting February 14.


In essence, PORTER is no more than your average – thought high-end – fashion magazine, in the likes of Vogue and ELLE. The already crowded market has just gotten more crowded. Flipping through the 282 pages of the first edition, you come across articles and photo spreads, and multiple ads of luxury houses, 35% of the magazine’s pages to be exact. Nothing out of the ordinary. One could have imagined the print magazine would resemble a lot more to Net-A-Porter’s weekly webzine The Edit with “shoppable” features as QR codes and such. Not even. The magazine breathes the influence of editor in chief Lucy Yeomans, formerly of Harper’s Bazaar.


Why would the leading luxury e-commerce company, turned digital media publisher, take a step back and invest in traditional media? “We’ve talked about how the Net-a-Porter Group is actually not just a retail company, but it’s a media company. And if we’re a serious media company we couldn’t ignore one of the most important existing media, which is print,” was Massenet’s answer to Imran Amed of BoF in a recent interview.  


Besides a well executed, flawless print format, PORTER magazine’s main differentiation factor and strength resides in its leveraging of Net-A-Porter’s digital assets. The tablet and mobile adaptation reflects an incredible content integration that mirrors its parent company e-commerce activities: with a click of the mouse, consumers can purchase their favourite pieces directly from the shopping platform or through other retailers. This is precisely where PORTER differentiates itself from other digital versions of fashion magazines. Net-A-Porter is on its way to leading a new market segment where publishing and fashion is mixed, if not blurred, to suit the curation and shopping needs of women in a one-stop shop. Whereas other magazines have tried to do so, their lack of retail knowledge has proven to be a weak point. “Net-A-Porter’s retail experience, deep connections with brands and financial backing from its parent, Geneva-based luxury giant Richemont, give it a big footprint », analyzes Wall Street Journal reporter Christina Binkley (here).


Whereas some say Net-A-Porter’s arrival in the publishing industry will only dilute already slim market shares, others see in its merging strategy an opportunity to develop an emerging segment, perhaps even transforming this conservative industry in the process, which brings us to wonder where the pioneering online retailer will go next… 


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