- Outdoor retailer REI has retired its print mail order catalog, and in its place plans to launch a new print magazine dedicated to outdoor lifestyles, the company revealed in a blog post. The retailer is collaborating on the magazine with HearstMade, Hearst's branded content arm.
- "Uncommon Path," which launches this fall, will be produced in-house and will distributed at 155 REI stores, as well as at several newsstands. The magazine joins the brand's various media products, which include an online journal, film and a podcast, MediaPost reports.
- The magazine launch also includes a partnership with NewsMatch, a non-profit that supports local journalism. The retailer plans to invest $100,000 in 10 local news organizations this year.
REI pivoting away from a print catalog to a print magazine follows several marketing trends. Fellow retailer Ikea last year announced plans to release fewer catalogs in favor of a digital push that includes more Pinterest content. In this case, REI is doubling-down on print, which offers a unique, long-form reading experience to consumers that are inundated with short form digital content.
As print magazine circulation and advertising continues to decline, some marketers have released branded magazines targeting niche consumers that are attracted to a particular area of content. Online dating app Bumble recently partnered with Hearst to produce a print magazine that features stories and advice about dating, careers and friendship. Home-sharing giant Airbnb also partnered with Hearst for its first issue of Airbnb Magazine, a print publication headed by Hearst Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles. Similarly, video streaming site Netflix released a free journal promote its original content and actors to support its Emmy campaigns.
The trend points to the enduring appeal of print media, in part because of its ability to create deep engagements with consumers, even as time spent with printed news declines while digital ad sales are poised to surpass print and TV.
Several brands have experimented with print ads to grab analog attention in a digital world. P&G's Old Spice last year ran a print ad in GQ magazine featuring an adult-sized paper blazer scented a new line of fragrances for men. The campaign, developed by Wieden + Kennedy, supported a television ad that ran during the Grammy's. Also last year, Audi created user-activated print ads that appeared for Departures, the Meredith Corp.-published magazine targeted at American Express Platinum Card members. The ads included a key fob that readers could use to animate taillights on the A8 when the page was opened for the first time.
In addition, REI has used the print push to unveil a purpose-driven partnership with NewsMatch. By supporting local journalism, REI can engage with consumers who are concerned about the effects of the decline of local journalism. The $100,000 pales in comparison to Facebook's $300 million local journalism promise, but since REI is not under fire in the same was as Facebook, the retailer is unlikely to be tarred with the "woke-washing" brush.