Marketing 101 With Anne Welch

It’s a tough time for magazines, but ELLE’s success only seems to grow, as seen in partnerships with Project Runway, MTV’s The City, and more.  Anne Welch, Vice President and Brand Publisher of Elle Magazine, didn’t play a small part in this – she’s an expert at reaching fashionistas, even in a time when shopping is taboo.  Here are a few of Welch’s marketing “basics” – just a taste of the knowledge she’ll share as a speaker at AdweekMedia’s inaugural Marketing to Women conference next Wednesday, November 4.  Women’s purchasing power is more influential than ever before; don’t miss this opportunity to learn what makes a woman reach into her wallet and spend.  

Anne offers some insight.

What marketers/brands do you admire and “look up to” for their strategies?
Apple – for defining cool
Target – for bringing fashion to the masses
Net-a-Porter – for taking e-commerce to the next level
Louis Vuitton – for remaining true to themselves

What are key marketing tips that you’ve learned that you feel are important to share?

Reinforce our Mission
ELLE has a distinct voice and one that separates us from our competition. It all begins with our mission and resulting editorial product. Over the past year we have solidified our position in the marketplace as the preeminent magazine for a relevant and relatable mix of fashion. While our competition has adjusted their editorial philosophy to the economic climate, ELLE has remained true to the magazine’s fashion mission: offering both practical and aspirational clothing and accessories; highlighting the trends, but never dictating them; and encouraging personal style and individuality.                      

Invest in Research
Consumer insight opens doors. In 2008, ELLE sponsored a ground-breaking study that profiled and identified today’s recession-proof shoppers. This study not only educated advertisers on the three types of women who will continue to shop in the face of the recession, but it also stressed the importance of fashion magazines. On every single measure studied, fashion magazine readers are significantly more qualified than that who do not read them: they spend more, they shop more, and they are more knowledgeable.

Innovate and Take Risks
ELLE is a magazine that has always taken risks—we were the first fashion magazine to launch a companion website and the first to participate in a reality television show. While the competition usually follows suit, ELLE continues to push the boundaries of what a fashion resource can do. Last spring we continued to innovate by launching the ELLE Dailies, a free subscription-based e-mail newsletter delivered to a broad, yet targeted, audience of prime fashion consumers.  In order to provide readers with more of the content they crave, last fall ELLE launched “Fall A to Zee,” an online feature that highlighted creative director, Joe Zee’s, key pieces and trends for the season. Over 400,000 consumers visited the site where they were able to click to buy straight from the advertising or the edit. Back by popular demand, Joe is again curating an alphabet’s worth of trends in Fall A to Zee and the ELLE Dailies have been extended to nine weeks reaching over 1 million opt-in subscribers daily.

With Project Runway, Stylista, and Ugly Betty, ELLE has always looked for creative ways to integrate the brand into television in order to increase brand awareness. Along these same lines, ELLE recently signed on with the Creative Artists Agency  (CAA), the world’s largest talent and branded entertainment agency representing clients such as Dell, Gap, and Coke. CAA will search for new opportunities for ELLE in television, motion pictures, DVD, and digital.

What have you learned not to do in your experience as a marketer?

Never Say Never
Over the last six years, ELLE has methodically moved up the ranks of fashion titles in the US by growing ad pages and share of market. In 2002, ELLE ranked 6th among the 7-book competitive set and had a 12% share of market. Today, ELLE is ranked #1 with 1,652 pages (and nearly 19% share) through October—two more pages than perennial category leader Vogue.

Limit Where the Brand Lives
With a crowded market place and tight consumer dollars, more so than in the past, advertisers have been looking for one thing when seeking media partners: proof of engagement. They want to know consumers are actively pursuing your brand and investing their valuable time and/or resources in it. To keep their experience with ELLE fresh, we are always looking for new ways to engage consumers both in-book and beyond the page. Whether it’s through a branded line of clothing or unique retail partnerships, we know our readers respect our opinion and therefore will seek our content through multiple touch points. Below are just a few examples:

  • Licensed Products: In addition to an ELLE branded line of jewelry and eyewear, in Spring 2007, Kohl’s department stores launched the ELLE Contemporary Collection, a line of runway-inspired women’s apparel and accessories. Now available in all 1,000 Kohl’s stores in 47 states, 2009 sales are projected to top $80 million.
  • ELLE Edit: ELLE is partnering with the New York store, Edit, to provide a high-end e-commerce area featuring fashion items that can be purchased online or at the store. Planned for a Spring 2010 launch offline and online.
  • ELLE Spa: Expected to open in June 2010, ELLE is opening a spa in partnership with the newly renovated Eden Roc hotel in Miami Beach.
  • Make Better Platform: ELLE’s year-long Make Better program incorporates everything from in-book content to a social media platform to a DVD series starring model Brooklyn Decker, ELLE’s creative director Joe Zee, beauty/fitness director Emily Dougherty, and a host of fitness experts as they give consumers tips on fitness, fashion, and beauty that will help them make small improvements in their already great lives. 

Follow ELLE Magazine on Twitter.


  1. I'm a faithful follower of "Elle" and absolutely love your beautifully artistic layouts and luxurious ensembles. I think you're the top of the heap.

    Sometimes the young set the trends by creatively using what they have in a new way and with economy. In these lean times, one must be even more creative than ever.

    One thing I think all businesses should take into consideration is the way people communicate these days, which will change marketing plans. We need to learn from the young where this is concerned, as they are fast and efficient communicators.

    General communication has predominantly gone from letters to telephone to email to text messaging. Neomedia can save the retailer an enormous amount of money and time, by using cellphones and the software they have developed.

    A customer can take a picture of an ad or barcode on a product and the software will take the shopper to the product website, display discounts or coupons and give product information. No need to speak with anyone.

    Eventually, the shopper will be able to purchase the item right then and there, which will save the buyer time and the retailer money. Pretty cool, huh?

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