Extra, Extra, Extra: Robb Report To China

ROBBerBarons.jpgTrends Media Group is China’s premier glossy magazine house, publishers of mainland versions of Cosmo, Esquire, and Men’s Health among other fancy titles. In August, Trends launched a coordinated marketing campaign to turn its readers on to “lifestyles of health and sustainability”, i.e. LOHAS, the latest consumer cult to enter China. “Look good, feel good, do good,” Trends exhorted, by which the publisher seemed to mean, in effect, spend good. The group Web site offered some specific tips from recent spreads in the . Cosmo Bride prescribed “home spas” and yoga to soothe the stresses of wedding preparations. Food & Wine recommended brunch, high tea and tapas over the typical three meals a day. Autostyle previewed the BMW Hydrogen 7. And Harper’s Bazaar proposed a raggedy white-on-white look it tagged “Life Detox”: LV jacket, Valentino dress, Chanel skirt. No, not exactly serious lifestyle adjustments. But with green in and hedonism out, Trends is only keeping up with the protocol of fashion trends worldwide, not to mention the Party’s present policy slant.

Trends might have a harder time incorporating its newest title into the LOHAS campaign, however. Corporate-level sources there say the company is soon to launch the Chinese version of the Robb Report, the American bible of conspicuous consumption. The luxury guide originally was supposed to debut on September 28. But its rollout might very well be delayed, said one source, for reasons related to production that were not entirely clear.

In any case, Trends executives are quite confident the Robb Report will go over well here. “The luxury market is huge in the cities,” said the aforementioned source. Producing a magazine of its sort in Chinese also involves little risk and minimal fuss. As with most Trends magazines, the bulk of the copy will be translated from the U.S. edition. To cater to the Chinese market, though, the editors will sprinkle in interviews with local celebrities and entrepreneurs about their lives and creature comforts, said the source. “Chinese people like to read this stuff.”

The Robb Report will be available mainly on the lobby racks at big-city clubs and service apartments, with only limited, if any, distribution on Chinese newstands. “It’s too high end, too expensive,” notes the source. So ads and promotions alone will support the magazine. Such is already the case for other high-society magazines in China, like Tatler.

The Robb Report not the only high-end consumer and investor guide looking to make a splash here. The Financial Times is widely rumored to be bringing its popular weekend insert “How to Spend it” into China. It was mentioned in nearly the same breath as Robb Report in a string of commentary on the Trends site a couple months back. So fear not, Lohasians of China. Relief is on the way.

September 17, 2007, 7:44 AM