Fashion Magazine Wars

7 Jan

Fashion Magazine Wars
12/SEP/2009 on air

Fashion magazine plus kawaii freebie. This is the way how fashion magazines are sold nowadays in Japan. The feebies are getting better and something very nice with collaboration with well-known fashion brands.

Those who buy the fashion magazines can be more attracted by the freebie than the magazine itself. In that sense, we cannot deny that the sales of fashion magazines are up to the freebie: what freebie from which brand is offered by the fashion magazine.
There are actually people who buy 4 copies of the same fashion magazine because she wanted to have 4 freebie bags from the magazine. She is not reading the magazine any more, she buys the freebie. This makes us wonder which is the main, the fashion magazine or the freebie?

2 hours before the opening hour, at a book store in Tokyo, there are shop assistants combining the fashion magazines and the freebies with bands. In Japan, nowadays 50% of fashion magazines throw in kawaii tempting freebies. It’s not too much to say that the likability rating of the freebies could affect the sales of the fashion magazines. It’s not surprising that the sales go up by 150% just because of the freebie from popular brand.

Sweet, the best selling fashion magazine in Japan was the starter. Watanaba-san, the chief editor of Sweet magazine has increased its sales from 200,000 copies in 2007 to 700,000 copies in 2009, thanks to the freebie strategy.

“We call it ‘brand item’ instead of ‘freebie’ as it’s part of our content.” according to the Sweet magazine. They once thought that “brand item” made it impossible for potential customers to browse their magazine because it had to be tied with strings not to be away from the magazine. They worried that the sales might drop when their customers could not even take a casual look at what they might want to purchase. But the result was opposite. Without freebies, the sales of the magazine dropped badly. Since this experience, they decided to offer “brand item” at every issue of their magazine. Actually in Japan, freebie and magazine has been a long-term combination. It’s nothing new.

Freebie is not only good for the magazine. It’s also a great chance for the brand to prompote their image. That’s why even subtle things, patterns, colors, etc. need to be discussed very well before decided. It’s possible for the brand to appeal to the layer of people who they have not targeted, only when the magazine targets them. For example, Anna Sui is a brand of which the main target is late teens to 20s, while subscribers of Sweet magazine include a bit more aged people. This means Anna Sui, by collaborating with Sweet, makes it possible to reach out the people in their 30s and they possibly get to like Anna Sui in the future from this freebie as a start.

How is the price of the magazine that comes with freebie? Sweet magazine changes prices according to the quality and brand of the freebie, and there is a maximum of 160 yen difference between the cheapest and the most expensive. They take a long time to decide what the most understandable and best-buy price is for their subscribers very seriously every time.

There are also fashion catalogue plus freebie combinations available from such brands as cher or Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Mr.Kurita, a professor of sociology to Musashi university, has been analyzing fashion magazines for 30 years and he found out behavioral patterns of young people from them. “Fashion magazines reflect society. Japanese fashion magazines = Japanese society. Fashion magazines tell us live and honest opinions or desires of people.” says Mr. Kurita.

He questions some way of sayings used in specific fashion magazines, and Beni-chan and Mr. Ikki answers them. “Puri-tsu”, as abbreviation of “Princess tsukin (=commuting)”, means dressing office-based Hime way at their works. “BQB coordination” refers to “Bon Q Bon” (this is a sort of slang that expresses ample busts, small waist, and again big hips.). “Nikoichi” means 2 girls wearing the same-looking clothes.

There’s a unique modeling office that issues local fashion magazine titled “PINDOM“. The chief editor is 17 years old high school girl and she is also a model to the magazine. Actually all the models of the magazine take part in the creation of the magazine. Their age is from 16 to 23.

The most selling fashion magazines in China are Japanese ones.
From the best selling to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, they are all Japanese fashion magazines that are translated into Chinese. Japanese fashion magazine publishers and Chinese local publishers cooperated each other. This Japanese fashion magazine boom gave birth to “mini Shibuya” at a department store in Shanghai where 110 stores are Japanese brands.
“Our customers like to read Japanese fashion magazines, and they come here to buy what they saw on the magazines.”

Bishojo zukan is a free magazine that was started in Niigata, Japan. It gathers beautiful Japanese girls of local areas, and so, it’s available at 46 prefectures except Tokyo.

There is actually another factor besides freebie that changes how well the magazine sells. It’s cover design of the magazine. When Sweet magazine changed its cover design 2 years ago, its sales increased dramatically. The point is, to locate the logo or the title of the magazine, a face of the cover girl, what’s inside as a freebie, and price within 12cm from the top.
In this way, the magazine will stand out from various other magazines.

Kirin’s opinion:
I have noticed most of the fashion magazines these days are available with kawaii bag or something as a freebie. I feel like buying some magazines because I am attracted by cute and nice freebies, but when I saw many girls have the same freebie bag of Marc Jacobs’ or cher’s, I just lost interests. When everyone has it, why should I have it, too? I want something else. Maybe it’s good if I can modify it as I like. :p
How the fashion magazines are in your country? Do they also try to attract us with kawaii freebies like here in Japan?


24 Responses to “Fashion Magazine Wars”

  1. megan January 7, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    There are usually never any freebies sold with fashion magazines here. Sometimes they may have instructions for getting a freebie off their site or something like a coupon for a particular store. Video game magazines are sold with freebies sometimes though, like posters or maybe demo discs. And some anime magazines used to sell DVDs with anime episodes on them, but they switched to offering a code you could use to download the episodes that way they could lower the overall cost of the magazine (some video game magazines may have done this as well). Here magazines and newspapers have seemingly been having a tough time for awhile. If magazines were to offer exclusive freebies like the ones in Japan though, then I might be tempted to buy more fashion magazines here (I usually don't). I would hope the content would be good as well though.

    Before I left Japan I bought a few fashion magazines to take home with me, and two of them had freebies. One of them was Cutie, which I bought because I had heard of the name before (I bought a copy of Zipper for the same reason), and the other was mini…which I bought because it had a cute milkfed zipper pouch with it. I thought the magazine looked cute too though, haha! I also bought Elle Girl, because they used to sell it here in the US but it folded, which made me sad because it was my favorite magazine at the time. So I got it because I was feeling sentimental.

    • kirin January 10, 2010 at 1:26 am #

      I don't buy fashion magazines, but I think their quality of the content is as good as without freebies. I don't buy fashion magazines because of several reasons. First of all, I have no time to read them. Secondary, I will want to buy things on there and I have to spend extra Yen, which is just endless, and finally there's no extra spece in my house to store the back numbers. :p But if the freebies are so tempting, I don't know…

  2. Mink January 8, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    I'm so jealous! There are rarely any freebies in American magazines- the only time you get things like tote bags is when you re-subscribe for the magazine, and even then, they're really ugly! 😦 The free bags are really plain-looking, and they don't give you an option not to get one when you re-subscribe, haha! I really wish that American magazines picked up the trend and started having small designer goods in with their issues. Magazine circulation has gone down a lot in the past year, and a large number of magazines have folded, unfortunately. Even though it might cost more for the magazine to put in small trinkets, the numbers show a boost in sales anyway so it might be worth trying. I'll admit that when I buy Japanese magazines in an import bookstore, I often make my decision based on the freebie! So far I only have a couple clutch bags, change purses, and a pencil pouch, but they're all really cute! Just one more way that Japan is more "kawaii" overall than the US.

    • megan January 9, 2010 at 3:39 am #

      Oh yeah, I forgot about the things you get when you subscribe. Sometimes what they give is sort of neat, mostly I've just seen things like bags or t-shirts.

      Our fashion magazines do have a lot of perfume ads (that have a small sample of the perfume sprayed onto the paper behind a flap)! That makes them smell really nice, at least, haha (And I didn't see any in the Japanese magazines I've seen).

      • kirin January 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

        That's true, yeah, I remember a lot of perfume ads! We don't have that in Japan. But freebies are far better than the perfume ads. ^ ^; If it's a small perfume bottle, that's nicer though. :p

      • winnie October 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

        in singapore if you subscribe to certain magazine like L'officiel in fact u can claim a full bottle (not the sample )of perfume from big brands, the last time i got was a perfume from missoni. i was sooo happy. lol

      • kirin October 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

        Cool! A full bottle of perfume!! 0w0

    • kirin January 10, 2010 at 1:40 am #

      Oh, really? Ugly? Well, but I can guess that. When I stay at other countries, at first I don't realize what I am missing. But as time passes, I notice that it's kawaii element at anything. Japanese magazines are kawaii~!
      Many Japanese magazines have closed down. And I think that's why these freebie things become a sort of standard to the industry.

  3. Sparklewolfie January 9, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    America magazine don't have brand items like the Japanese magazines 😦 When I was in Taiwan I saw a lot of places that sold Japanese magazines (some were not even translated to Chinese!) and so many of them had lovely brand items included! I did get a little sad that I could not browse the magazine, because then I do not know what the style of the magazine is just from the cover 😦 So I did not buy any of them

    I think it would be nice for the brand item to be like a poster that is attached to the magazine so you can browse, but the brand item will not fall out, or for it to be attached like a bookmark tassel so customers can still look through the magazine before deciding to buy or not

    • kirin January 10, 2010 at 1:33 am #

      In Japan, usually (depending on the stores, though) there is a sample magazine for us to browse inside, and the sample freebie opened to be touched or observed from any angles. That's why it's OK even if the rest of the magazines + freebies are tied together, we can learn what the content looks like before we decide to buy it. 🙂

      • Sparklewolfie January 10, 2010 at 1:57 am #

        That would be so much better! I like to browse first~

  4. jessy January 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    thanks so much for posting Tokyo Kawaii TV. is so entertaining!
    now that we have more channels, i found the NHK channel!!
    it is because of your blog that i know about this show.

    there is a lot of things america can learn. T_T
    i don't think they would ever consider having freebies, because it's money out of their pocket.
    companies here want to spend less money for products , and hoping people buy it.
    although for manga magazines, sometimes they have a free mini calendar (after you buy magazine for months).

    when i went to Mitsuwa (japanese marketplace near where i live),
    the magazines were so cheap!!!!! I got one for $4 dollars! and all pages were in color too. but the one i bought did not have freebie (Seda). how much do magazines cost in japan?
    i wonder because i thought it was more expensive to buy imported magazine…

    • kirin January 15, 2010 at 1:52 am #

      I think fashion magazines here in Japan cost around 600-700 yen (USD6 or so) and some of other magazines cost about 300-400 yen. When I was in San Jose about 15 years ago, there was a Yaohan and Kinokuniya book store inside it. But I think they are gone by now…

  5. cherry January 17, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    LOVE IT 😛 ❗

  6. Moomin January 20, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Here in the UK Magazines often also have freebies with them (books, nail polish, makeup, bags) often brand name too
    though I never buy the magazine just for the freebies if I know the magazine itself is rubbish.
    I usually stay loyal to only 1 or 2 magazines :]]
    My friends in Japan often send me magazines, but they never had freebies! perhaps they keep them for themselves lol!
    As always, i'm thankful for your summaries!

    • kirin January 21, 2010 at 2:50 am #

      In Japan, not all of the magazines come with freebies, so don't doubt your friends! (LOL) But if there is a small picture of the freebie on the cover of the magazine, (as spoken in the episode) that means it should come with the freebie. If you find the picture but nothing inside, then it might be your friends who took it out… :p

      I don't think Japanese magazines deteriorate the quality of contents just because they rely on the freebies. :p

  7. Andi January 24, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    The only magazine I've ever come across with freebies in the states is the British teen mag Sugar (which is/was regularly available in bookstores). Recently, I think it was Marie Claire that came with a thin drawstring backpack. But for the most part, there's no real freebie. I really wouldn't mind having something like that with my mags… They're just getting thinner and thinner and after a while, there's no longer any motivation to read. A few times a year would be good enough for me.

    • kirin January 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

      O_o! That's too bad. Japanese fashion magazines are still thick and they come with nice freebies. But I've never tried it yet. Even though the magazines are good, I know I'll have no time to read them, hahaha…^ ^;

  8. cin February 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    ooo this will be useful info for the magazine place I work in! Thanks!! 😀

  9. Lain February 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Hi, I just found your blog and is so interesting and entertaining! :). I always wondered about the items that come whit japanese magazines. I got 3 japanese magazines as a gift time ago, and one of them (Ray) came whit a small cute tote bag, but I didn't think that the freebie thing came whit every single magazine. Japanese magazines are huge and super heavy! Is like taking a trip to the fashion stores whitout leaving your house 😛 They have so many info and pics, that everytime I opened I always found something new lol Im from Mexico, and the only free stuff in fashion magazines are few samples from beauty brands inside the magazines, nothing amazing. Kyaa-! I wanna buy!!

    • kirin February 14, 2011 at 1:08 am #

      Hi Lain, welcome to TKE blog. 😀
      I remember how small cosmetics or perfume samples that came along with American fashion magazines, so it's the same in Mexico. How interesting, you know I live in Japan I think fashion magazines being like that informative is normal but now you are telling me it's special! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  10. May June 7, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    Hello, I'm really love this thing but I would like to know that where can I buy the back issue japanese magazine with freebies online?Thanks in advance

    • kirin June 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      Usually back issues can be purchased from an Amazon seller as a second hand (but pretty good condition), and this system is only available in Japan. (I mean Amazon sellers do not ship overseas.) If you badly want something, contact me from the contact form with the title and issue of the magazine. I can assist this with a fee, but sometimes overall cost will be too much.

  11. jmags September 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    great article! i always thought vivi or cancam to be the most popular magazines.

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