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NewBeauty Magazine Reinvents Itself After 10 Years With Fresh Editorial & A New Design – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Officer & Editor-In-Chief

October 21, 2015

“When I look at another reason magazines aren’t going to die, it’s because one of the most enjoyable things to do for people is to go sit on the beach or by the pool, or in the mountains and bring your magazines along with you. Or bring your books and you just read. And for me that’s a great pleasure. If I can have time to sit outside and read my magazines, I have a one-year-old (Laughs), so if I can have that time, that’s heaven. And some kind of device is never going to replace that.” Yolanda Yoh Bucher

NB41_Celeb_JM_Cover To deepen the brand’s mission to help smart women make the most educated beauty decisions, luxury beauty brand NewBeauty has implemented a significant investment in an editorial redesign of its quarterly magazine. The team worked with award-winning, New York design firm Priest+Grace to debut the new look in the Fall-Winter 2015 issue, featuring cover star Julianna Margulies.

It’s a print investment that Chief Content Officer and Editor-in-Chief Yolanda Yoh Bucher said was totally worth it, even in this digital age. Yolanda believes in the print experience and that nothing, no device under the sun or moon, can replace the feeling you get when you have that intimate moment with ink on paper.

The magazine boasts the highest cover price of any beauty magazine on newsstands, at $9.95, and its readers have the highest average household income of any magazine in its category, at $197,000, according to Yolanda. To that end, NewBeauty took a decisive step and reinvented the magazine’s entire editorial lineup and look – from bolder, brighter visuals to new color schematics – to continue to engage its upscale readers.

I spoke with Yolanda recently and we talked about the redesign and the magazine’s past, present and future. It was a delightfully uplifting conversation about the value of print and the quick resources of digital that could be offered to the magazine’s audience, a dual contribution that she feels each of the magazine’s readers deserve. Audience first and that undeniable “experience” is what the “new” NewBeauty is all about.

So, re-comb your hair and take one last glance in the mirror just in case and get ready to enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Office & Editor-In-Chief, NewBeauty.

But first, the sound-bites:

NB Yolanda Yoh Bucher Headshot On the highlight moments in her life as editor and in the life of the magazine: We wanted to create a magazine that would be trusted, educate women, and give them enough information to where they could actually make a decision. That was one of my core beliefs with beauty. Beauty can tend to be a little bit fluffy. Women really want serious answers. They want to understand the complete picture when it comes to beauty. We looked at it as doing serious journalistic research. A lot of it is very science-based. And I think our readers really responded to that. They wanted that kind of information. And that is what really set us apart and what really got us noticed.

On what she did to maintain the magazine’s DNA over the years and why now, after 10 years, she felt a facelift for the publication was needed: Well to maintain the DNA it’s really just staying true to everything that we’ve always believed in, which is our core focus on education, information and research. We are the only magazine that has a board that vets our content. So they vet every single page of editorial and advertising for accuracy. I think that’s really important. Whether that clicks in the heads of our consumers or not, they recognize that that information is trusted. To answer your second question, about giving ourselves a facelift, you know when we launched the magazine we kind of wanted to break every magazine rule, and be so, so different. It has definitely garnered us much success over the years. But sometimes being so different in a magazine space is not always a good thing. We took a look at re-doing the entire structure of our editorial while still staying true to that core message, and really just freshened up our entire editorial.

On why she’s invested in print in this digital age: I think it’s a different experience. It’s important to have all the touch points for your reader. Obviously, you have to have that robust digital experience. And like you mentioned earlier, we are finding that most of our readers are looking at our website on mobile devices. But when you think about how someone is looking at information, especially in a mobile environment, they’re maybe looking at it, if you’re lucky, for eight minutes. With our magazine and with all of our research, we found that our readers spend a staggering 94 minutes with our issue. That is a deeply engaged reader.

On whether she thinks print is going away: No I don’t. I think it’s a way to inspire. I think people will always want to look at beautiful images, and be able to spend the time to digest the information they are looking for. And I’d also say that in a digital environment everything is moving so quickly and the nice thing about having a magazine in print is again, you can take that quiet time and you can sit with it; you can digest and absorb the contents that you’re reading. It’s just different than when you’re playing with your phone and you’re looking at websites and you’re doing 800 things at the same time. That’s a very chaotic type of energy, so reading is actually very relaxing and peaceful, and I think healthy.

On what motivates her to get out of bed every morning and come to work: It’s the passion. It’s the creativity. It’s always reinventing something new. I think that’s the challenge. You’d think that over time we would have exhausted all the topics, but it’s funny because every day I wake up with a new question, a new beauty question. Or there’s something new I read that I think is interesting and I want to find out more information. Having a magazine and a team of extremely amazing editors who do all the research is fantastic.

On how she relates to her audience: That’s how we relate. The magazine’s foundation is built on problems and solutions. We believe in providing a range of options, so that a woman can choose something that is right for her. We don’t believe in hyping something, ‘hey this is the latest, greatest new thing. You have to try it.’ We’re going to explain all the different types of things that she could use to solve a problem. We’re going to give the pros and cons and let her choose for herself.

On whether she thinks the audience’s easy access to her and the magazine in today’s digital world makes her job easier or harder: We hear about it all the time from brands or experts that we cover in the magazine. They’ll tell us that readers will reach out to them asking for more information, or there will be an increase in sales. All those things tell us that we have given them enough information to be interested in something.

On reinventing the look of the magazine using Priest+Grace in New York as the designers: They are fantastic. When we decided to redesign the magazine after so long, we realized that it was important to work with an outside group. It was obviously myself and my team, and the majority of my team has been with me for the whole 10 years. So sometimes you can’t give yourself a makeover, but you have to go to somebody else, and they were the experts. They are topnotch when it comes to redesigning magazines. We went through a very lengthy process. It was maybe five months of brainstorming, them really understanding our content and our mission.

On whether she’s taking a gamble by reminding people they’re aging: No, I think everyone realizes that they are aging. I don’t think that’s a secret we can hide from people. Everybody that we interview and talk to is proud of aging. They’re proud of how they are aging. If you look at Hollywood today, the major stars are the older ones, and they look amazing. Everyone wants to know what their secrets are and what they’re doing. That’s something we talk to them about and go back and explain what’s the science behind that, what’s the research and why do they look so good.

On any challenges she’s had to face over the years with NewBeauty: There are challenges along the way because we’re always looking to reinvent and always trying to do the next best thing to always be better, so there are always going to be challenges. Early on, one of our biggest challenges was that we freelanced out a lot of our articles when we first designed the magazine. They came in and our Board reviewed them and said, ‘you can’t print this. This is why we’re here. We’re here to vet this information for accuracy and this is misleading. You’re making surgery sound easy; you’re making these claims that are incorrect.’ So, we learned quickly the value of that trusted, researched information and to this day we actually write all of our articles in-house, which I think is unique.

On anything that she’d like to add: I think that as I said to you before, it’s important to recognize that you have to provide your reader with what they’re looking for. You have to provide them with answers and you have to meet them at all possible touchpoints. So, you have to deliver something amazing and well-researched in print that they get at their doorsteps. You have to be able to keep them engaged and stay on the breaking news in your digital space, because obviously with a website there are things that are happening much quicker and faster than you could get in print. And so you have to make sure that you stay on top of that cutting edge news.

On what keeps her up at night: In order to continue to grow you have to keep changing. And change, like this redesign; change can be a little bit stressful. (Laughs) I stay up at night thinking about change and everything that we have to adapt to in order to continue to grow and to build a really strong and successful business. That keeps me up.

And now the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Officer & Editor-in-Chief, NewBeauty Magazine.

Samir Husni: I still remember when the first issue of NewBeauty came out 10 years ago. It was published in 13 regional editions and all of the regional editions were put in one magazine.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Yes, a huge phonebook. It’s funny because I remember you as well. Didn’t you speak to Adam Sandow? (Chairman and CEO of SANDOW®) He was excited back in the day. Adam and I actually both built new beauty together, 12 years ago. We just kind of celebrated our 10-year anniversary, but we’re heading to 11 years in print, which is exciting.

Samir Husni: Take me through that journey. Since you were there from that moment of conception. And now the baby is….

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: The baby is older. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: The baby is older. And even the job of the editor has changed so much through those years. You were born pre-digital and you’ve survived after digital. What are those highlight moments in the life of you as the editor, and the life of the magazine?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Absolutely. It was an amazing experience. Adam and I approached building a magazine from a different standpoint. At that time, people were actually just starting to look for a lot of information in a digital space. And so, we kind of broke traditional magazine rules. We created a magazine where you could find information. We basically laid it out extremely logically. So we had, sections where you could again find what you were looking for, and that was extremely well-received.

We wanted to create a magazine that would be trusted, educate women, and give them enough information to where they could actually make a decision. That was one of my core beliefs with beauty. Beauty can tend to be a little bit fluffy. Women really want serious answers. They want to understand the complete picture when it comes to beauty. We looked at it as doing serious journalistic research. A lot of it is very science-based. And I think our readers really responded to that. They wanted that kind of information. And that is what really set us apart and what really got us noticed.

Samir Husni: You had a lot of imitators that have come and gone. Some are still there.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We’ve had a few. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: So what did you do to maintain that DNA over all these years. And why now, did you decide, no pun intended to have a facelift?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Right. Well to maintain the DNA it’s really just staying true to everything that we’ve always believed in, which is our core focus on education, information and research. We are the only magazine that has a board that vets our content. So they vet every single page of editorial and advertising for accuracy. I think that’s really important. Whether that clicks in the heads of our consumers or not, they recognize that that information is trusted. It’s validated, it’s researched. That is very, very critical. We stay true to that core. Beauty has changed so much in 10 years. There has been so much innovation, so much science, that kind of vetting is so critical.

To answer your second question, about giving ourselves a facelift, you know when we launched the magazine we kind of wanted to break every magazine rule, and be so, so different. It has definitely garnered us much success over the years. But sometimes being so different in a magazine space is not always a good thing.

We took a look at re-doing the entire structure of our editorial while still staying true to that core message, and really just freshened up our entire editorial. We re-laid out the whole book; we took those sections that I mentioned earlier away. We gave ourselves more of a traditional magazine lineup. But yet we still have the in-depth scientific articles. We have invested a lot more in our photography. We’ve gotten brighter with a lot more white-space, so it is even easier to read. I think we have elevated ourselves to another level in terms of luxury. To us, obviously we’re invested in print. We believe in the magazine as being a core foundation of the brand.

Samir Husni: That leads me to my next question, why are you invested in print in this digital age?

Screen shot 2015-10-20 at 9.14.29 PM Yolanda Yoh Bucher: I think it’s a different experience. It’s important to have all the touch points for your reader. Obviously, you have to have that robust digital experience. And like you mentioned earlier, we are finding that most of our readers are looking at our website on mobile devices. But when you think about how someone is looking at information, especially in a mobile environment, they’re maybe looking at it, if you’re lucky, for eight minutes. With our magazine and with all of our research, we found that our readers spend a staggering 94 minutes with our issue. That is a deeply engaged reader. You’re spending a lot more time and you’re able to really do the research that you need again to make that decision. That is how we look at print. It’s that much more engaged experience.

Samir Husni: So you don’t think print is going away?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: No I don’t. I think it’s a way to inspire. I think people will always want to look at beautiful images, and be able to spend the time to digest the information they are looking for.

And I’d also say that in a digital environment everything is moving so quickly and the nice thing about having a magazine in print is again, you can take that quiet time and you can sit with it; you can digest and absorb the contents that you’re reading. It’s just different than when you’re playing with your phone and you’re looking at websites and you’re doing 800 things at the same time. That’s a very chaotic type of energy, so reading is actually very relaxing and peaceful, and I think healthy.

When I look at another reason magazines aren’t going to die, it’s because one of the most enjoyable things to do for people is to go sit on the beach or by the pool, or in the mountains and bring your magazines along with you. Or bring your books and you just read. And for me that’s a great pleasure. If I can have time to sit outside and read my magazines, I have a one-year-old (Laughs), so if I can have that time, that’s heaven. And some kind of device is never going to replace that.

Samir Husni: Let me change the gear of the questions a little bit and go to personal things about you. What drives you? You’ve been with this magazine for 12 years, what makes you want to come to work everyday? What gets you out of bed to come to work every morning?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: It’s the passion. It’s the creativity. It’s always reinventing something new. I think that’s the challenge. You’d think that over time we would have exhausted all the topics, but it’s funny because every day I wake up with a new question, a new beauty question. Or there’s something new I read that I think is interesting and I want to find out more information. Having a magazine and a team of extremely amazing editors who do all the research is fantastic.

If I have a question about a new trend, our team will dive a lot deeper than what I’ve typically found when it comes to beauty. I get my questions answered. Our team gets our questions answered. I think that’s our service for our readers. We get to something interesting. We get to the heart of a topic. That’s exciting for me.

Samir Husni: How do you relate with your audience?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: That’s how we relate. The magazine’s foundation is built on problems and solutions. We believe in providing a range of options, so that a woman can choose something that is right for her. We don’t believe in hyping something, ‘hey this is the latest, greatest new thing. You have to try it.’ We’re going to explain all the different types of things that she could use to solve a problem. We’re going to give the pros and cons and let her choose for herself.

That’s one of the biggest things I believe in. That it’s not about editors dictating and saying, ‘hey this is my opinion. I think this is something that you should do.’ Our job is to report. Our job is to be fair and balanced. We have access to experts that consumers don’t have. We need to take all that information and aggregate it in a way that is digestible for our consumer. The fact that she has enough information to make a decision, that’s the real end goal. That is what I’m proud of.

Samir Husni: Do you think that that interaction today has become easier? Readers can respond to you instantly or if they see something, they email you, tweet about it or write about it. Or does that make your job harder as an editor?

Screen shot 2015-10-20 at 9.14.08 PM Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We hear about it all the time from brands or experts that we cover in the magazine. They’ll tell us that readers will reach out to them asking for more information, or there will be an increase in sales. All those things tell us that we have given them enough information to be interested in something.

Samir Husni: I know that you have used my friends Priest+Grace, those marvelous designers in New York, to reinvent the look of the magazine. Can you tell me a little about your process?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Absolutely. And they are fantastic. When we decided to redesign the magazine after so long, we realized that it was important to work with an outside group. It was obviously myself and my team, and the majority of my team has been with me for the whole 10 years. So sometimes you can’t give yourself a makeover, but you have to go to somebody else, and they were the experts. They are topnotch when it comes to redesigning magazines. We went through a very lengthy process. It was maybe five months of brainstorming, them really understanding our content and our mission.

When we went into the redesign we didn’t want to be unrecognizable to our readers. We didn’t redesign the magazine because we weren’t successful. We were doing extremely well. Our consumers were extremely happy with what we produced. But we knew that we needed something fresher. My big thing was that we needed to stay core to our DNA. Like I said, be recognizable to our readers, so someone wouldn’t pick it up and say, ‘what is this? This is like a whole different magazine.’

So they had to take that on as a big challenge. We went through a lot of rounds in that redesign process to get to where we are today, which I’m so proud and so happy with. It’s so much brighter, so much easier to read. I think we really elevated the brand. Obviously, it was a big investment. We did a big investment with them; we invested more with our photography and our imagery. To round it back out, we don’t believe print is dead. It’s such an important part in how consumers digest information.

Samir Husni: You don’t have an average audience; your readers have a very high household income.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We have an extremely high household income, $197,000.

Samir Husni: The magazine is not cheap; it’s almost $10 per issue. Yet when you look at this new issue, as I read Julianna’s quote (Julianna Margulies – who is on the cover of the first redesigned issue), “If I was not aging, I would not be living. You have to embrace it.” Are you taking a gamble by reminding people that they are aging?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: No, I think everyone realizes that they are aging. I don’t think that’s a secret we can hide from people. Everybody that we interview and talk to is proud of aging. They’re proud of how they are aging. If you look at Hollywood today, the major stars are the older ones, and they look amazing. Everyone wants to know what their secrets are and what they’re doing. That’s something we talk to them about and go back and explain what’s the science behind that, what’s the research and why do they look so good. What is it they are doing that I can do to be the best that I can be? We’re all going to age. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: So my line that I’m 62, but look 42, and act 22 doesn’t really work, right? (Laughs)

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: (Laughs too) No, I think that totally works and I think it’s fantastic. When the first issue of the magazine came out I was 30 and I just turned 40, so it happens. A decade definitely makes a difference. A decade changes you.

Samir Husni: Has your trip through that decade been all smooth sailing or you’ve had some stormy seas along the way?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: There are challenges along the way because we’re always looking to reinvent and always trying to do the next best thing to always be better, so there are always going to be challenges. Early on, one of our biggest challenges was that we freelanced out a lot of our articles when we first designed the magazine. They came in and our Board reviewed them and said, ‘you can’t print this. This is why we’re here. We’re here to vet this information for accuracy and this is misleading. You’re making surgery sound easy; you’re making these claims that are incorrect.’ So, we learned quickly the value of that trusted, researched information and to this day we actually write all of our articles in-house, which I think is unique. My edit team is terrific, and again my edit team stayed with me for all of these years. So, it’s all of that knowledge and still working with our Board that creates good, core content.

But that was a big challenge and very stressful. (Laughs) There were late-night conference calls with the Board, ripping our articles apart.

Samir Husni: Is there anything that you’d like to add?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: I think that as I said to you before, it’s important to recognize that you have to provide your reader with what they’re looking for. You have to provide them with answers and you have to meet them at all possible touchpoints. So, you have to deliver something amazing and well-researched in print that they get at their doorsteps. You have to be able to keep them engaged and stay on the breaking news in your digital space, because obviously with a website there are things that are happening much quicker and faster than you could get in print. And so you have to make sure that you stay on top of that cutting edge news.

And then you have to kind of round that out with an experience. So actually right after we launched the magazine, we launched something called the Test Tube in 2006, which was actually the first beauty product sampling program. We were the first, but we kind of kept it to ourselves and a little bit quiet and really only marketed it to our readers. So, we looked at that as a service so that our readers could learn about something in the magazine. They could try it in the Test Tube and then eventually if they found something that they liked, they could take action and they could buy it.

Again, it’s that 360° approach in how you communicate with your audience. And I think that’s really important and the core foundation always being your print piece. And then how do all of those extensions build off of it. And that’s the way that we look at it.

Samir Husni: Now that you mention the Test Tube, I remember the cost was either $19.95 or $29.95, something like that.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: My memory doesn’t serve me very well, but I think it was something like that. The pricing was different. But we actually produce them now 6 times per year, so we have more Test Tubes. We added onto it because they were so wildly popular.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: In order to continue to grow you have to keep changing. And change, like this redesign; change can be a little bit stressful. (Laughs) I stay up at night thinking about change and everything that we have to adapt to in order to continue to grow and to build a really strong and successful business. That keeps me up. Change is one of the most difficult things for human beings.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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