GQ Australia scraps print edition, promises expanded digital offering in 2021

GQ Australia is the latest Australian publication to pull out of the print business, announcing the forthcoming 2020 November/December issue will be its last.

News Prestige Network will retain the rights to publish custom printed GQ Australia products, but the brand will become digital-only, moving to an online publishing strategy in 2021.

GQ Australia’s Jan/Feb 2020 cover

GQ Australia revealed the move will see its digital offering expanded, following online growth over the past few years. Now it plans to build out as well as its social, video and events offerings.

The brand will also launch an e-commerce product, new podcasts and a new daily newsletter, as well as pivoting its editorial strategy to include more tech, gaming and sports content.

Managing director of The Australian, NSW and prestige titles, Nicholas Gray, said GQ Australia continues to grow and change, with the digital-first strategy designed to make the brand more accessible.

“Over the past 20 years Australian men have grown in their approach to style and attitude to improving themselves and GQ Australia has grown right along with them,” Gray said.

“Making this decision with our licensor, Conde Nast, we are refocusing the brand and investing in digital because that’s where GQ Australia’s growth is coming from, and our new offering has been designed to make the brand accessible to more people.

“Moving to a digital-first model allows us to evolve the brand and deliver a more powerful offering of market-leading products and the very best consumer and client experience on whatever channel they choose, whether it is our owned platforms, on social or through events.”

GQ Australia July/Aug 2020 Cover

According to recent Nielsen data for August, has a unique audience of 249,000 (up 4.8% year-on-year), as well as a social audience of 384,000.

Editorial director of GQ Australia, Vogue Australia, and Vogue Living, Edwina McCann, reiterated the solid growth experienced by its online platform.

“The male audience is very digitally focused, we can see that with the strong growth of across the year of 55.4%. It is particularly popular with the younger male audience, with three in 10 of its audience in any given month being aged 18 to 34,” she said.

“E-commerce is an exciting area of growth for GQ Australia, Conde Nast recently launched a successful e-commerce ecosystem for GQ internationally and with their support we will follow suit in Australia in 2021.

GQ Australia has always been a campaigning brand and we’re incredibly proud of our GQ Men of the Year Awards, which have recognised and celebrated so many extraordinary Australians for their work and achievements over the past 13 years, and that will continue.

“The GQ Big Ideas virtual event series we are currently running has resonated incredibly well with our audience and will culminate on 5 November with the GQ Big Ideas Summit. We will continue to lead in this space and have plans to introduce even more thought-provoking digital series tackling important issues.”

GQ Australia Sept/Oct 2019 Issue

As to how the decision to close the print product will impact advertisers, Thinkerbell GM Ben Shepherd told Mumbrella he didn’t think it was likely to move the needle much, because “the cohort who reads publications like GQ are available elsewhere in much higher numbers with more engagement”.

He does suggest, however, that GQ’s closure “is yet another example of what’s likely to be a consistent story over the next 12 months, not caused by COVID but definitely accelerated by it.”

Nunn Media’s Sydney MD Chris Walton said that while he believed print brands will be missed, many advertisers had already seen the writing on the wall.

“I am sure advertisers will miss what has been a great environment for male fashion, fitness and lifestyle brands. But what good is a great environment if no-one is going there?

“It is a hard but painful truth that the readers aren’t there anymore in any great numbers. In reality therefore it won’t really affect advertisers.”

The closure of GQ comes during a tough year for print media, with falling ad revenue seeing several long-running titles either suspend or cease publication.

Bauer Media (now Are Media) closed eight titles; Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK, in July, with many editorial, sales and production staff losing their jobs.

That followed News Corp’s decision to shutter over 100 regional and community papers, with many moving to digital-only formats but several titles ceasing to exist entirely.

In February, The Brag Media ended publication of heritage title The BRAG magazine after almost two decades, while Australian Community Media (ACM) ceased print publication at four press facilities.

GQ Australia did not comment on whether any jobs would be affected in the axing of its print edition.

The November/December 2020 issue of GQ Australia hits newsstands on Monday, November 9.


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