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LESS FREQUENT BRIDES: These days, bridal-industry experts say it takes a year and a half to plan a wedding. Coincidentally, it seems that will be the same amount of time it will take Brides magazine to overhaul its magazine, which began almost a year ago with the hiring of new editor in chief Anne Fulenwider and publisher Michelle Myers. In May, Fulenwider introduced a redesign of the bridal title that was met with mixed reviews by readers. Her first cover featured a modern-looking bride holding an untraditional bouquet of long branches from a magnolia tree. Her next cover went back to showing a bride that was a bit more traditional.
Now the magazine is about to change its publishing schedule, taking it from a monthly title to a bimonthly one, beginning in January. Brides has been publishing monthly since January 2010. There are a few reasons for the schedule change, Myers told WWD, which include a decline at newsstand and a renewed focus to reach its millennial readers on the Web. For the first half of 2012, newsstand was down 26 percent.
RELATED STORY: Brides' Anne Fulenwider on the Nuances of the Bridal Market >>
“We can’t make a change to the business model and isolate it to one thing,” said Myers. “But consumer behavior is a big part of this. Our bride is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. She’s very different than brides of years past. Our content is consumed very differently today.”
Myers added that by moving to a bimonthly schedule, she believes single-copy sales will improve. “Newsstand has declined pretty steadily for the last year and a half,” she said. “This was certainly one of our considerations in making this decision.”
Joe Murphy, chief executive officer of JLM Couture, said he welcomes the change. Murphy advertises regularly in Brides and said having fewer issues on newsstands for a longer period of time better aligns with the timetables of the bridal industry. “Not every month in bridal is important — some are bigger than others,” he said.
On the digital front, brides.com will soon become fully mobile, and the brand is planning a big push on social media. This includes the first-ever crowdsourced, publicly livestreamed wedding on Facebook, in partnership with Zuckerberg Media (owned by Randi Zuckerberg). It will be shown live in spring 2013. Robin Steinberg, executive vice president, director of publishing investment and activation at MediaVest, said it makes sense for the brand to focus more on digital, since it’s where consumer behavior is shifting. “The experience that brides wants today in terms of engaging in content is very different from five years ago,” she said. “The magazine recognizes that.”
There had been speculation that changes could be coming on the publishing side, with sources saying Myers was on shaky ground, but a spokeswoman said it was a rumor that had “zero validity.” Condé Nast President Bob Sauerberg added his support. “This is a smart, strategic plan,” he said. “We have full confidence in the continued success of the Brides franchise under the collaborative leadership of Michelle and Anne.”