Casper Launches a… Magazine?

It’s no secret that magazines and print advertising have been in a state of consolidation.

Jann Wenner just sold a controlling interest in Rolling Stone.  Rodale was acquired by Hearst and Time Inc. was purchased by Meredith, with downsizing likely after both transactions close.  And some of the best-known magazines around, including Gourmet, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Life have ceased printing altogether or been significantly refocused.

However, there are signs of life.

Now comes news of an e-commerce company launching a magazine.  You read this correctly… a magazine launch by an online retailer – in a year where two major publishers were gobbled up and ad sales industry-wide are down 13%, with a similar figure forecasted for next year, according to a recent New York Times report.

This new economy e-commerce company: Casper, already a darling of the industry.

The name of its new publication: Woolly Magazine.

Woolly Magazine is a quarterly publication that is all about “comfort, wellness, and modern life.”  Available for order on Casper’s website for $12 an issue, it’s meant to be more of a long-lasting, coffee table fixture as opposed to a quick read.  The magazine’s first issue, 96 pages long and with a print run of 30,000 copies, features an “Adulting Coloring Book” as well as an advice column entitled “Ask a Grandma.”  Woolly’s content encourages readers to breathe, relax, and learn a few wellness techniques along the way.  In the age of the fast, never-ending news cycle, Woolly Magazine’s message may resonate nicely with readers.

Casper is not the only non-traditional publisher beginning to embrace magazines.  Earlier this year, Away (the e-commerce luggage company) and Airbnb launched travel magazines of their own.  Perhaps these two companies, along with Casper, are discovering anew, custom-published magazines that are bespoke and very niche in nature.  It’s a bold experiment during a time of consolidation – but by starting small, they can capture readers who see print media as a much-needed change of pace from digital and social media.

Casper’s launch of Woolly is just the latest example of a new economy, historically e-commerce company embracing offline media.  Direct response advertising has seen scores of advertisers in addition to Casper, such as Wayfair, Hayneedle, and even Amazon, successfully embrace offline media like direct mail and shared mail.

In Casper’s case, the Woolly Magazine launch is proof that more companies are embracing an omni-channel approach to interact with customers and prospects alike.  It’s also a vote of confidence for magazines themselves… a long-enjoyed, tried and true media that, despite what recent consolidation may bring, will remain prominently in the mix for the foreseeable future.

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