The popularity of international fashion and lifestyle magazines is growing in China, but readers’ tastes are proving to be domestic.
Chinese women respond positively to Chinese versions of international magazines featuring prominent and attractive stars from their home country on their covers. Angelica Cheung, editor in chief of Vogue China, lists Li Bingbing, Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Cheung, and Fan Bingbing as some of her magazine’s most eminent covergirls. For Marie Claire China, pop star Wang Fei, actress Zhou Xun, and movie star Zhao Wei haven proven great for readership.
Though some international celebrities — including Angelina Jolie, Blake Lively, Miranda Kerr, and Scarlett Johansson — have drawn in Chinese readers, domestic stars “almost always sell better,” according to Women’s Wear Daily.
“The choice of a foreign cover star is very much dependent on its relevancy,” says Xiao Xue, editorial director of Elle China. “For example, does she have a hit movie in China or has she recently won an award, and so forth.”
Ms. Cheung of Vogue China notes that a covergirl’s appeal to Chinese readers is more than superficial.
“Chinese women are becoming increasingly focused on not only fashion and consumption, but leading a positive, healthy lifestyle,” she said. “With this in mind, I definitely try to reflect this in our cover choices — whether Hollywood celebrities, Chinese celebrities or international supermodels, they not only need to have style, but also substance, they need to represent this Vogue woman that we wish to portray.”
The great challenge facing China’s international lifestyle magazines today is “providing compelling content for a domestic audience, with an international flair.” Featuring local celebrities is essential to achieving this delicate balance, and not just for women’s magazines.
For men’s magazines, “hot Chinese celebrities, a few major international stars and localized content” are the biggest draws for readers, though covers aren’t as important, according to Wang Feng, editor in chief of GQ China.
“Men are more loyal to the magazines and have a better awareness of the brands than women. Aren’t women fickle?” said Wang. “Women follow different people but men comparatively recognize the magazine.”
Wang admits, however, that local celebrities tend to pull in more readers than international ones.
“Usually readers like Chinese people better on the cover.”
image source: vogue