While American newsweeklies Time and Newsweek undergo drastic changes in hopes of surviving, The Economist's ad pages and circulation are up, even while a year subscription continues to cost $127.
We asked Newsweek CEO Tom Ascheim -- whose magazine re-launched today -- to explain how his competitor does it. He gave us three reasons for The Economist's success:
- As a non-American magazine, the Economist has been forced to take on a global perspective, attractive to worldly, aspirational readers that advertisers will pay a premium to reach. "The audience they're speaking to has a global life and The Economist has a global voice."
- The Economist actually makes money from its circulation. Tom says that because the economy has steadily grown over the past 25 years, the traditional model in the US magazine industry has been to lower subscription prices in order to sustain volume and generate more advertising dollars. The Economist never resorted to this model and kept its subscription rates very high.
- Perhaps our favorite explanation for The Economist's appeal came from Vanity Fair writer Matt Pressman, who said “The Economist is like that exotic coffee that comes from beans that have been eaten and shat out undigested by an Indonesian civet cat, and Time and Newsweek are like Starbucks — millions of people enjoy them, but it’s not a point of pride.” Anscheim likes that explanation, too. "There's a certain snob appeal to the Economist," he said. "Not everyone who gets it reads it."
Follow Nicholas Carlson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nichcarlson