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Authenticity and Customer Knowledge in Fashion-based Periodicals: Conde Nast Inc. and the Development of a Class-based Strategy in the British Magazine Market Between the Wars

Cox, Howard and Mowatt, Simon (2011) Authenticity and Customer Knowledge in Fashion-based Periodicals: Conde Nast Inc. and the Development of a Class-based Strategy in the British Magazine Market Between the Wars. In: Business History Conference, 31 March- 2 April 2011, St Louis, Missouri, USA. (In Press)

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Abstract

By the early years of the twentieth century, the leading publishers of magazines in Britain had developed a business strategy that was focused almost exclusively on the building of large circulation weeklies. These periodicals provided the firms in question with a strong platform through which to serve the advertising needs of the manufacturers of mass-produced commodities, along with the growing band of large-scale retailers that sold such items. This obsession with developing cheap titles, however, meant that Britain’s leading periodical publishers found it expedient to treat their readers as a single homogenous mass. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising to find that the pioneer of audience research amongst magazine publishers in Britain was the American-based firm Condé Nast. Drawing on materials from the firm’s archive in New York, this paper looks at the way in which Nast’s development of class publications (most notably the fashion magazine Vogue) which were aimed at a specific readership segment, led them to develop various forms of market research during the inter-war years. In order to prosecute the strategy of class publications successfully, Nast sought methods of gaining direct knowledge both of the readers of Vogue magazine and the strategic consumers such as clothing retailers. By devoting resources to gaining a more detailed knowledge of their audience, Condé Nast were able to steal a march on rival UK publications and develop Vogue as the authentic publication covering the world of high fashion for a specific segment of British female readers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:

This was a conference presentation of our forthcoming Business History paper

Uncontrolled Keywords: advertising, fashion magazines, magazine market, Vogue, customer knowledge
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Academic Departments > Worcester Business School
Depositing User: Howard Cox
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2011 13:27
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2013 06:01
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/1369

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