Jewelry Week, Women Of The Year Award, Harper's Bazaar Suite and now Harper's Bazaar Business Club: media brand Harper's Bazaar sets the tone when it comes to eye-catching brand extensions and collaborations. Editor-in-chief Miluska van 't Lam talks about their strategy.
Let's first take a giant leap back in time, because did you know Harper's Bazaar was first published as far back as 1867? The American fashion magazine, which is known for offering a platform to such icons as fashion photographer Richard Avedon and artist Andy Warhol, is now published throughout thirty countries, and in 2014, the Netherlands was added to the list. Editor-in-chief Miluska van 't Lam has been at the helm since 2018. We speak to her a week after the first ever Harper's Bazaar Business Club talk: "This took place in Hotel De L'Europe, our second home, but more on that later. Next time however, we'll select an even larger location, as there was capacity for sixty women, and a total of ninety registrations, so that's way beyond our expectations."
The rapid success is partly due to the founding committee set up by the team, the editor-in-chief continues. "This consists of different leaders, creative thinkers and entrepreneurs of diverse ages and backgrounds. They are our think tank and we incorporate their needs. They are also our ambassadors: these women ensure that the target group understands what our Business Club entails."
With this new community, the media brand is responding to the needs of its target group. Van 't Lam: "We focus on the cosmopolitan woman of all ages; leaders, entrepeneurs and creators. She is highly educated, has capital to spend or has the potential be able to spend. Reader research shows that she not only wants to be very well informed, but also really wants to grow in terms of personal development and style. Anything to climb that career ladder."
These days, there are more communities and business clubs focusing on women, but there aren't any like this, the editor-in-chief points out. "Many business clubs concentrate on a certain sector, such as tech, finance or media. Harper's Bazaar Business Club however is the cumulation of well-curated content, which is told by experts in various fields, and all packaged very stylishly, as it makes a considerable difference whether you organize that in a room at an austere industrial location with plastic coffee cups or, for example, in the beautiful Spiegelzaal in hotel De L'Europe(hall of mirrors) served with a glass of champagne."
The fixed format for the talks is one keynote speaker, who holds an in-depth talk on a certain subject, and a panel consisting of three members who share their experiences: "Marian Spier for instance was one of the speakers, she's the founder of TEDxAmsterdamWomen, and has just released her new book Impact, offering female starters the tools to develop further through FEM-START." One important aspect is the monthly newsletter. "In addition to the Weekly for all our newsletter members, we created the Monthly especially for the business club members, where finance, role models, leadership, books and podcasts all configure."
If you belong to the club, your membership fee of 120 euro (101 Pounds) also entitles you to access the private LinkedIn group and various e-courses. Who are the members? "Seventy percent are entrepreneurs, thirty percent work as a manager for a corporation, and one third has a subscription to our magazine; two thirds don't, but we notice that the interest is there," says Van 't Lam.
In the future, Van 't Lam hopes to set up valuable collaborations with companies with her business club. "Employers need to do their best to retain and attract good people during these times. Through our business club, they can empower their female employees. In the end, it's very simple: through our club, women develop into better leaders, and in doing so, take not only their team but also their company along with them, which is immediately reflected in the company's results. It's a win-win. It's so nice is to have the female directors of these companies speak during our talks, as in this way, we immediately help make more female leaders visible, something that is also desperately needed."
Back to the present: Harper's Bazaar is also known for their special brand events, such as Jewelry Night. How did this event come about? Van 't Lam: "During Haute Couture Week, I was invited to the most beautiful jewelry houses in Paris. When I was there, I thought: how impactful would it be to let the target group experience this as well? Not in Paris though, but in Amsterdam. After that, on the first visit in 2019, we visited various jewelry houses with eighty women and a number of men."
For this event, a paid collaboration was set up with all of the brands. "For example, a family member of the Schaap & Citroen family business spoke. And at Lyppens, we got a look at the studio where the craftsmen and women were at work. At the end of the evening, there was no insistence on buying anything, but you were given something to take home, such as a discount coupon, which provided a reason to return to the store at another point in time."
Big brands find it less and less interesting to end up lumped in with multiple other brands. "That's why we now link one single brand to one single event. This works very well, because the brands really want to get in touch with our community directly; preferably within a small setting of about thirty women."Enter your text here ...
Harper's Bazaar organized this for Paula's Choice among others: "This beauty brand was looking to get to know the beauty rituals of the target group and share the importance of good skin care, which is why we arranged for one of their scientists to translate her knowledge into daily use and share it with the group of invited guests." As far as Van 't Lam and her team are concerned, this is the future of brand collaborations. "In this set up, the media brand is the facilitator of the event. We bring the brands into contact with a carefully chosen group of women, so that there is a real match from both sides. The past has often shown that we are effective at procuring suitable people, and brands trust us in this regard."
Value of video
The Harper's Bazaar team noticed that video is also a valuable format for the target group to become acquainted with the brand experience. "We made a video of the event with Paula's Choice, so that we could share it with a larger audience. Furthermore, video of course offers endless possibilities. For example, I recently interviewed three leaders for Mercedes on their most solid business tips, and made a great video of it. For Mastercard, we celebrate three iconic fashion items on video, where a model shows the best way to combine a little black dress, for example. And for Dyson, we created a tutorial for their latest hairdryer."
The editor-in-chief also noticed that video actually conveys print in an additionally powerful manner. "For example, we have been making a video with every cover since last year. The first cover we applied that to was the one with top model Aisha Musse. She was photographed by us wearing a hijab. In addition, we made a very beautiful video in which you see her together with her sister and mother. People really liked it: we don't just notice that in terms of views, but also in the sales figures."
Louis Vuitton cover
The cover shoot often involves brand collaborations, the editor-in-chief continues. "For example, the cover of this edition with ballet dancer Michaela DePrince is a collaboration with Louis Vuitton. And for the new issue, we entered into a collaboration with Cartier, for which we even went out to Lake Como." Speaking of a solid example of brand experience: the Harper's Bazaar brand can now be experienced 'in 3D' at Hotel De L'Europe, as Van 't Lam enthusiastically describes it. "We have our own suite there. During the week we organize shoots here, make our Powercast, and meet up with customers here. This morning, for example, I had an appointment with several luxury houses from Paris." In the weekend, the target group can spend the night in the Harper's Bazaar suite. "As a guest, you can enjoy an immerse yourself in our world here, which includes art by various female artists, our selection of podcasts, books on female leadership, art and fashion, tips from our city guide for Amsterdam and the surrounding area, plus you'll receive a gift to take home."
Of the thirty international editions, not one single edition has its own hotel room and business club. There is a chance that this will also be rolled out across the border, as is often the case. Van 't Lam: "We also keep a close eye on what happens across the border at the media brands of the same name. The British and Spanish editions are an especially good match for us. For example, the British, like us, organize the Women Of The Year Award. Furthermore, they have also inspired us to release the beauty box as well: a box that saw us enter into cooperation with various beauty brands, and with success too, as it was completely sold out within a short space of time." The American edition has an online shop, something that Van 't Lam also follows with great interest. "We already have great collaborations in the field of affiliate links that appeal to the target group, and are now investigating how an online shop can be an addition for us. I would love it if our community here could search very specifically for that oversized blazer, a colorful dress, or little black number."
Access to Beyoncé
A nice side effect of an international media brand with multiple editions is that Harper's Bazaar NL has also received access to international content. "We copy around 30 – 35 percent of the international content, in order to work efficiently and cost-efficiently. There's often grumbling about that by the industry. I think that's absolute nonsense. This gives us the opportunity to publish interviews with great, inspiring women in our magazine. Take the interview with Beyoncé for our September edition for example. This world megastar would never grant that just to the Dutch edition on its own, but they will if it's for all editions, which enables us to then use it as well – and with success, as that issue has flown out of the store here, and also sold very rapidly via our online sales channel. As long as we are allowed to curate who will feature in our edition, if anything, it is actually adding value."
For those who dare to dream
In any case, the editor-in-chief is all about sharing knowledge with other editions across the border. "I would love it if we could eventually organize an international Harper's Bazaar Business Club. Imagine if other editions also set up a club, and we could organize an international edition every year. Wouldn't that be wild?! And, it's totally in keeping with our pay-off 'for those who dare to dream'."