Last month in New York, Meredith Corp. held its first-ever BrandFront presentation, revealing to advertisers "Partnerships That Will Change the World," a sprawling multi-platform content initiative designed to engage Meredith's massive (and growing) female Millennial audience.
Encompassing four central themes — Give, Protect & Connect, Strive, and Lead — aspects of the new initiative include partnering with various charitable organizations like the GOOD+, Movemeant, and Recipe for Success Foundations, among others, as well as a range of new programming spanning video, social media, digital — and yes, even print.
"Our goal, in close collaboration with our platform partners and our brand sponsors, is to provide the women we serve with content, products and services that authentically inspire them, meet their needs and wants, and support their goals,” said Jon Werther, president of Meredith's National Media Group.
Those goals, according to research into what makes Millennial women tick, include entrepreneurship, healthy living, family safety, and an underlying desire to impact their own communities in positive and meaningful ways.
The initiative, which touches every brand under the Meredith umbrella, represents several trends in the industry, both recently emerging and long established. Among them: an aggressive push into digital video content, a desire to give back, and the growing need to allow advertisers to reach a company's full, cross-brand audience.
Folio: chatted with Meredith's chief brand officer, Kim Martin, and chief marketing officer, Nancy Weber, to learn more about the findings behind Partnerships That Will Change the World, and how the company plans to put them into action in the year ahead and beyond.
Folio: We're seeing a lot of these charitable initiatives on the part of media brands, particularly those serving women. Was that something your research suggested Millennials want more of?
Kim Martin: You’re seeing a big trend that’s happening across the country. At Meredith we serve about 72 percent of all Millennial women. So we tried to dig into both qualitative and quantitative research to understand that audience. What kept bubbling up was this need of young Millennial women to give back in the communities in which they live. There’s this overarching concern about greater society.
Nancy Weber: We don’t find this whole idea of giving back just for the Millennials; we see it really across Gen-Xers as well as Boomers, but this whole idea of working together to make change in society is something that is a real key trend going on right now.
Folio: Was there anything in the research that suggested Millennials are changing in their sensibilities or values?
Weber: We did some research about seven years ago, where we identified this new female, which we named “The Gamma.” In the 80’s or 90’s, most women wanted to be characterized as an “Alpha Woman.” It was very hierarchical and wasn’t very collaborative or connective. One trend we’ve been watching with the advent of the internet and social media is that this generation is a lot stronger in collaboration and sharing.
Folio: Is this something you're seeing in non-Millennials too?
Weber: Absolutely. What we found in all of our research is just that each generation kind of goes about it in a different way. Boomers like one-to-one contact and interaction. Obviously, Millennials are much more social and inclined to text, things like that.
The leading edge of the Millennials are in their mid- to late-30’s now, so they’re going through life changes that have been going on since the beginning of time. Even in the category of Protect & Connect, the top concern among moms and parents is this idea of safety. Safety is the number one thing that drives Millennials to the idea of a connected home.
Folio: Is this the largest-scale initiative of this nature that Meredith has ever undertaken?
Weber: We’ve been doing this and our brands have been doing this, but we’ve never really done it in a collective way. One unique thing you’ll see next year is a lot of cross-promotion between brands. When we talk about the fact that we reach 102 million women, we’re putting that full power behind these initiatives.
Martin: Something else that is interesting is this idea of a BrandFront. We have so many ridiculously strong, established, trusted brands, and our content is cross-platform. It was a chance for us to share the Meredith story, something we’ve been working on for so long.
Weber: To that point, there’s been a lot of “Fronts” — NewFronts, UpFronts — we’re seeing more and more that marketers are looking at integrated, cross-platform programs.
Folio: So you're seeing that advertisers and marketers are attracted to this idea of Meredith itself as a brand?
Weber: Yes, most brands are looking for scale and looking to work with fewer media companies. They’re looking for ones that can offer cross-brand, cross-platform opportunities at scale.
Folio: Lets talk about some of the other new launches planned. What was the impetus behind "Dinner Spinner," the new TV series inspired by the AllRecipes app?
Martin: We were thinking about ways to extend our brands into television. As we were kicking around show ideas, one thing that kept coming up was the success of the Dinner Spinner app. We thought it would be interesting if we actually turned it into a home cook competition. Everybody is a foodie and a home cook now, so we felt that the appeal was kind of universal. We also feel that it’s going to help drive interest in the app.
Weber: It’s been interesting for us. AllRecipes is really the first digital brand that’s gone to print in a successful, massive way. When we tested the concept of a print magazine, we had over 400,000 subscribers in about three weeks. We’re now well over a million circulation, and that number continues to grow.
Folio: Is that success something you think you'll replicate with the new Magnolia Journal launch with Joanna and Chip Gaines?
Martin: As you know, Joanna and Chip Gaines are hugely popular across the country, and are best known for their TV show. But they came to us as a partner on their lifestyle magazine. They felt it was an opportunity to connect with consumers, the way that we launched AllRecipes magazine. We anticipate that to be extremely successful, as well as a long-term partnership opportunity for us.
Folio: What about the More.com relaunch? Why choose to revive More as a digital-only brand?
Martin: More.com is a website that is content created by Millennials for Millennials. We’re using a lot of influential bloggers and social media stars to produce the content. Based on our research and what we’ve learned about Millennials, we understand that they’re interested in beauty, style, home, relationships. We’re looking to continue to create that kind of content, but we’re also making sure that there is an empowering and inspirational aspect of it as well.
More, before we closed the magazine, had always been about self-empowerment and reinvention. So what we’ve done is take that concept, but evolve it for the Millennial woman.