17 Sep 2019 12:47 PM

Businesses need to consider what is a challenge and how they will adapt.  Are they a niche or a multi market product? 

I read two articles in the Sunday Times business section and was struck by a commonality they shared. 

Tim Richards, founder of Vue Cinemas was talking about the threat of streaming services, and how Vue had previously positioned itself to see off other perceived threats to film viewing, VHS, Blu-ray etc and was doing so once again.  His winning formula is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to research his market and give people what they want.  For Vue this means offering families in the North early viewing times so that they can have an early dinner and North London Turkish communities films in their mother tongue. All this in a comfortable environment, spacious leather seats making the experience an event worth paying for, whilst competitors’ cinemas have what Tim Richards terms as ‘plastic seats’. 

Conversely the other article was about the UK arm of Marie Claire, the fashion magazine and once the darling of the midmarket fashionistas; in the 90’s and 00’s it had a dedicated following. However at some point it seemed to lose its way in what became an overcrowded market.  This week the title announced that it will cease print production for the UK market, maintaining only its online publication. Print production is no longer profitable for Marie Claire, advertising revenue is not covering costs and fewer copies are sold; its readers are now flocking to social media influencers for content.  Its high end competitor, Vogue, appears to have no such dilemma.  The typical Vogue reader enjoys the look and feel of a well produced magazine, (Kate Middleton was a guest contributor in 2016 and more recently Meghan Markle featured in the magazine).  Advertisers tend to be at the luxury end of the market, with correspondingly high budgets. Whilst Vogue is available online, it invests in its content and readers still buy the print version. 

So where is the common thread?  In a world where technology is changing buyer behaviour, businesses have choices about the way they engage with technology.  

They can follow the Vue model; to use technology to help them gain deeper market knowledge, tailor their niche offering and provide an enhanced experience to customers.

Or they can do as Marie Claire UK did and use technology as a new and alternative delivery platform, ceasing their traditional delivery.

Vogue however is choosing to stand out as a niche luxury brand people will pay for and choosing to rely on attracting advertising revenue. It will be interesting to see if this strategy will sustain Vogue in print.