Gourmet Magazine is gone. As a foodie and a fan, I will miss thumbing through its sleek photographs and fantasizing about dining pilgrimages in Mediterranean climes. McKinsey’s cost-cutting analysis of Conde Nast’s properties suggests that the cause of death was ad page decline. Of course, ad decline is a symptom of something much more significant. Everyone, not just food magazine publishers, should pay attention to the real root cause.
On first glance, it seems like a shocking closure. Home cooking and food-oriented travel continually increase in popularity. Their impact on popular culture is evidenced by the success of the film Julie and Julia.And therein lies the clue: the very construct of this movie – food blogging – is an early warning sign that portends the end of traditional food publishing. Because there are simply better ways to share recipes, stories and fantasies about food than in a perfect-bound print magazine.
Make no mistake, this trend will go beyond the food and bridal categories. (Two of Conde Nast’s bridal titles are on the slab, too.) Next up: the home improvement sector. And then kids. Sports. Fashion. The old ways of delivering entertainment and value are being pushed aside. Not by some external force, mind you. By all of us, as we share tips and photographs and self-publish our own points of view.
Conde Nast says they’ll keep the brand alive on gourmet.com. OK, that’s a start. But there are infinite ways for this venerable brand to continue to engage its deeply loyal fans — beyond a mere website.
From communities to mobile and context-aware travel guides, from cooking accreditation to new forms of realtime programming, from live events to branded content development (they should have been a producer of that movie) and brand partnerships (Gourmet-Fodors, Gourmet-Olympics, Gourmet-Visa, anyone?) Let’s see some realtime innovation bring more Gourmet – not less – into our lives.