LONDON, United Kingdom — In a strategy shift, Dazed Group, one of fashion's most respected youth-focused media companies, is set to overhaul its Dazed & Confused print publication, repositioning it as the “leading independent fashion and culture magazine" and reducing its frequency to 6 times per year, starting in the first half of 2014.
"People are changing their reading habits," said Jefferson Hack, founder and editorial director of Dazed Group. "Now, mobile is in people's hands everyday and they are getting their news and fix of culture from a mix of media. So, the print magazine has to become something more than it was. It has to become a printed manifesto and make a radical statement with more elaborate photography and more inspiring content. It has to be collectable and set the agenda," he continued.
"What we have discussed internally is a complete upgrade of what a magazine is — in the software (the content mix), the user-interface (the design and tone of voice) and the hardware (the quality of the paper and packaging)."
At the same time, the group is expanding its audience on DazedDigital.com, its most popular website, which has tripled its traffic to over 787,000 monthly unique visitors in under a year, according to figures provided by the company. (In 2013, the site has also seen advertising revenue rise by 31 percent compared to the previous year).
Hack attributes the growth in audience to a refined editorial strategy and tighter integration across digital and print products. "We focused on fine-tuning the storytelling, strengthening the Dazed point of view and providing more insight in each of the articles. Tim Noakes, Dazed's editor-in-chief, and Robbie Spencer, Dazed's fashion director, hired a new team, specifically to work across print and digital, and they have secured more focused fashion coverage and global cultural exclusives. Another key driver was the focus on news and breaking stories of specific interest to our audience. The investment in the team and synergy across editorial and social media, working as one voice, has also been key to successfully driving audience engagement and interest," he continued.
"We have finally moved from being a print publisher to being a digital-first publisher," said Hack. "Print is still a massive part of our business, but we think of it as existing in a digital paradigm." Dazed aims to increase its online audience to 1 million monthly uniques in the first quarter of 2014.
As online video consumption continues to explode — by 2017, video will account for nearly 70 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, with users viewing the equivalent of 5 million years of video every month, according to Cisco — Dazed is also investing in expanding its video strategy. Last month, the company launched Dazed Vision, “the in-house video arm” of Dazed Group, and kicked-off a year-long “video strand” called Visionaries, featuring weekly video takeovers on DazedDigital.com, authored by the likes of James Franco, Björk, Warp Records and others. "The video revolution reminds me of the photography revolution in the late 1990s and early 2000s," said Hack. "But it's not a volume game for us. We are taking our time. We are interested in truly independent storytellers who have a vision that supports our ethos."
For Dazed, the shifts come as young fashion consumers continue to spend more time online and competitors — notably, British style bible i-D, which cut back its print run to 6 issues per year in 2009 and was acquired by global digital media and publishing group Vice Media in December of last year — are investing in their websites and adopting new, digitally-savvy approaches to content, platform and monetisation.