The question weighing on the mind of the print media at large is, "In what month will I be getting laid off?" But in the luxury print media sector, the question is more like, "Will our readers be buying more, or fewer, private planes this year? And when should I buy mine?" As hard as it is for crusading journalism school grads to admit, magazines targeting upscale readers—a polite term for "rich Wall Street bastards"—will naturally attract more premium advertising, and are usually better positioned to ride out any crazy economic fluctuations than other magazines whose readers are quicker to go broke. Or are they?
As soon as Wall Street starts showing signs of serious troubles, people start wondering whether upscale magazines are going to fold. It's a possibility, of course, but only for those that aren't firmly entrenched with their target demographic (the rich). For those that are accepted as leaders in whatever luxury category they happen to be pimping, they should be able to ride out the wave just fine, because a rich person losing money can still afford a magazine, while a poor person can't.
Doubledown Media, publisher of knowingly ostentatious mags like Trader Monthly and Private Air, is doing great, according to the New York Times. The grandaddy of wealthy magazines, The Robb Report, has also seen its ad pages increase over the past year. When your average reader makes $650K, as Trader Monthly's does, you can take some bumps in the market in stride.
Trader Monthly and similar publications do not need to worry "until their readers give up their private planes," Mr. Phillips said.
This is particularly true for Private Air.
But wait! All is not well in luxury land. While specific magazines might be doing fine if their roots run deep enough, the category as a whole is obviously going to be impacted by an economic downturn and smaller bonuses on Wall Street. Advertisers will feel that decrease in disposable income and, consequently, conspicuous consumption.WWD runs a "maybe, could be, too early to tell" type of story on the prospect of a luxury downturn, but does point out that the New York market is insulated by foreign money pouring in here because of the cheap dollar.
Who really has to worry about an economic climate like this? Mega titles like Portfolio, which need a huge volume of luxury ads to justify their huge investments, but also need a broader audience than just top-tier employees in the investment industry. Portfolio is especially vulnerable because it has thus far failed to establish an editorial vision compelling enough to make most business people consider it a must-read. At this point it's only reliably read by Gawker employees—and we don't buy any luxury items. It's a quandary.