New York Loyal magazine fans no longer have to limit their experience to just reading. They can now sport their favorite magazine brand on their backs, in their hair and in some cases even taste it.
In an effort to bolster brand awareness and boost revenues in an advertising slump, an increasing number of consumer publications, from Seventeen to Food and Wine, are making licensing a serious priority.
They're going well beyond the traditional book-publishing route, unleashing a slew of products from chunky footwear to gourmet food while endorsing products that reflect the sensibility of the magazine.
Elle, which has more than 60 licensees worldwide, wants to make a big footprint in North America. In the past year and a half, Elle, which has established businesses in Europe and Asia, launched footwear, eyewear and sunglasses in the United States. Jewelry will be unveiled in stores by the holidays, followed by handbags, said David Fishman, senior vice president of brand development at Hachette Filipacchi Magazines group, the parent of Elle.
Other magazine publishers are taking the same route.
Seventeen, which since 1998 has offered accessories, socks and hair clips, is expanding into eyewear this fall, said Barbara Deering, president of Primedia Enterprises, the licensing arm of Primedia, the magazine's publisher.
There also are plans to launch swimwear, lingerie, and wireless games under the Seventeen brand. It's also in negotiations to open a nonalcoholic dance club for teens in Hollywood.
Meanwhile, its teen rival YM, which had dabbled in hair accessories, is expanding its repertoire. This past spring, rhinestone sunglasses were shipped to drug store chain CVS, and for fall it will market back-to-school accessories, such as fuzzy notebooks, frames and lamps.
Food and Wine, which came out with its own brand of mustard a year ago, added 35 more products, from olive caper pasta sauce to pear butter, all of which are sold to gourmet food shops and upscale grocery chains, said Mark Stanich, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of American Express Publishing Corp., the magazine's publisher.
"This is definitely an emerging category," said Charles Riotto, president of the International Licensing Merchandisers' Assn., an industry trade group.
He said magazines, struggling with declining ad revenues, "are looking at something that is dependable month after month."