Condé Nast has always had a hand in the beauty industry, but now it’s bringing its cozy relationships with brands to consumers through IRL events and new content.
On October 21 in New York City, Allure will host its first ticketed consumer event. It will be a live iteration of its annual Best of Beauty awards and called The Best of Beauty: The Live Event. Vogue, meanwhile, is launching a Vogue Beauty vertical. It will introduce the content by incorporating beauty programming and activations in its ticketed Forces of Fashion consumer tentpole events held in different cities throughout October. In addition, GQ will soon launch a new video series about men’s grooming trends. And in June, as a standalone offering apart from its annual Beauty Awards, Self held the Healthy Beauty Awards, which focused on safe, effective and emotionally beneficial products.
According to a February story from The New York Times, Condé Nast ended 2022 with positive EBITDA earnings but still fell short of its revenue targets. Ad revenue grew year-over-year, while subscriptions and e-commerce fell short of goals. Condé Nast is a unit of the privately held Advance Publications. It does not publicly disclose financials and only occasionally discusses them. The New York Times cited that Condé Nast had revenue of nearly $2 billion in 2021. It turned a profit but did not cross $2 billion in 2022, despite revenue growth. Pam Drucker Mann, global chief revenue officer at Condé Nast, told Glossy she is pleased with current revenue performance, given where Condé Nast started the year and the earlier economic expectation of a recession. But she declined to state whether Condé Nast is achieving its current revenue goals, stating it was too soon to know.
“We’ve dimensionalized how we think about creativity and our brands as ways in which we [can] build super-fans,” said Drucker Mann, referencing music concerts like Beyoncé’s and the rabid fanbases they encompass as inspiration. The strategy at Condé Nast is to galvanize its readership through multiple touchpoints ranging from IRL events to memberships and product seals of approval through awards.
Jessica Cruel, editor-in-chief at Allure, said it was her priority to “activate on the Allure community,” in the form of IRL beauty moments, when she stepped into her role in 2021. According to Allure’s 2023 media kit, Allure has 7.1 million average monthly unique digital readers and 5 million social followers. The print publication ceased in Dec. 2022.
“I wanted to find ways Allure could interact with [readers] — not only so we can hear from them, but also so they can know who we are. So much of beauty these days is about people,” said Cruel.
During Saturday’s one-day sold-out affair at Chelsea Industrial in NYC, attendees can access different themed areas with sponsoring brands. One is the Beauty Closet, reminiscent of magazine offices’ dedicated space for beauty products. The Beauty Closet will feature individual booths from brands including TreSemmé, which will offer dry styling, and Dove, which will hold hand massage appointments. In the center of the event space is a pedestal area featuring brands including Jones Road. For its part, Jones Road will provide foundation matching and consultations without required appointments. Cruel said treatments were prioritized while planning the event. A panel area will host fireside chats, including one with John Legend, the singer-songwriter and founder of Loved01 skin care. And finally, there will be a shoppable portion of the event where Best of Beauty winners will be featured. People can scan QR codes to load products into their Amazon basket for purchase.
General admission tickets sold for $59. They included a tour of the Allure Beauty Closet and a gift bag valued at $125 which contained full-size products from Best of Beauty winners and event partners.
Cruel said that the word to define the publication’s revenue strategy is “diversification,” which has become even more critical to the vitality of the media industry. Even a significant bastion of journalism like The New York Times, for example, has steadily expanded beyond news into mobile games, cooking, a content studio and podcasts. In the case of Condé Nast, its diversification efforts have been underway for a long time. Allure launched its Beauty Box subscription in 2012, and The New Yorker created its namesake festival in 2000. Vogue has held its Forces of Fashion event since 2016, and before that was the Vogue Festival, which was hosted in London by British Vogue between 2012-2016. In 2021, it came back as Vogue World.
It’s also notable that beauty is becoming a more vital pillar of media’s diversification efforts, further underscoring the strength of the consumer category both in revenue and social currency. Beauty has historically been a lifeblood of magazine advertising, but the IRL opportunity did not previously exist. (Editor’s note: Northwestern Medill professor Patti Wolter once remarked to a graduate class in 2016 that even the most seemingly unrelated magazines like Runner’s World must have editorial pieces about makeup to court lucrative beauty advertisers.)
“Beauty has moved much more quickly when it comes to opening up the floodgates to different people, whether that’s people with disabilities, of different ethnicities and backgrounds, or gender identities,” said Cruel. “I have always felt that beauty was a very open topic, and the fact that many publications can cover it is a perfect example.”