Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Admit I was Wrong About HGTV Magazine

Okay… I am the first to stand up and say I was wrong.

A little over a year ago I posted a blog about HGTV magazine and used the blog post as a podium of commentary that I just could not see how a broadcast brand could easily transition to a magazine format.

I still agree that there are some rather unconventional ways that the editors bring to life television scenarios in a print format.

As a few might know EXPERIENCE does a lot of strategy development work with client-partners in the House and Home marketplace.  And, the work spans across much of North America and even parts of Europe.

I subscribe to a bunch of House and Home publications including House & Home, the premier Canadian interior design magazine. 

The set includes Country Living, Traditional Living, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Home & Garden, House Beautiful and Elle Décor.  It runs the gamut of how the English and French design their interiors to how the fashionable in Manhattan to West Hollywood define style.

There are two BIG CHANGES taking place within this microscope of culture right now. 

One is a direct reflection of the last blog-logue I posted that you can read below… The Millennials are emerging and rattling the cage of architecture and design.

Mid-century is hip and cool… down payments are scarce… and interactive combined with live-work is a “here and now” state of mind.

The second is that as the Millennials rattle the cage of architecture and design, the urban editorial world of house and home publications are quickly retreating to their own backyards… whether its Manhattan, Toronto, LA, Paris or London.

The problem is that their own backyards are so far away from the reality of the here and now of the masses.  Lord help us, but they seem to even make clarification that it’s a penthouse on the Upper Eastside and NOT the Upper Westside. 

At least three of the current issues of the high-brow design pubs feature stories about the homes of one of their own editors. 

The pictures of the “See and Be Seen” photo galleries showcase the same people issue after issue. 

Perhaps the label of “incestual editorial” might apply.

 When I pursue through the pages of HGTV Magazine I am struck by how much more real the people are who are featured in the stories.

Their homes look like what I see when I drive to work each morning or visit other metros and conduct Coffee House Chats at the neighborhood Starbucks.

The issues highlight ways to renovate the “mid-century homes” or near-mid-century homes that are found to be affordable to both “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters” of the mass market.

Instead of showcasing the $4,000 rocking chairs and $2,999 living room lamp, HGTV Magazine lists out finds at IKEA, T.J.Maxx ad Home Depot.

HGTV Magazine has commentary and advice on finding deals featured in pictures versus listing out by name the individual designers who custom made the prototype piece.

Are the high-end designer publications soon to fold… maybe.  I would not rule it out. 

I used to enjoy receiving my issues of Gourmet magazine back in the 1990s.  Gourmet Magazine helped educate me on what made California Chardonnays unique from French Cabernets.

But high cultural dining gave way to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. 

Target has to rethink and adjust as the Millennials begin to make their mark. 

And the highbrow Manhattan ad execs that see life through their Central Park sunglasses are receiving 911 client calls as ad dollar return diminishes.

We cannot entirely divorce HGTV Magazine from its peers – shoot, a good number of their editorial team once mingled with the Manhattan high-brow.

Are other publications that are embracing the Millennial’s perspective of “sinking down roots.”


Whether its Country Living showcasing the Millennial Betty Crockers in Nashville or Dwell Magazine showcasing the 20-something gay couple and their 600 square foot pre-fab, indeed there are other print pubs out there that are getting it too!

And for the purposes of this blog post, I won’t journey far into the online, but trust me, there’s a bunch more sites that are connecting with Millennials without having to turn on the press.

I was wrong a year ago.  I admit it.

As Howard Schultz voices in his best-seller about Starbucks… Onward!