“Magazines” in the Digital Age, and the Influence on Female Consumerism

kindle-fire-hd-magazineMuch like the case with television, printed media (magazines, books, newspaper, etc.) are also trying to adapt to the digital era. This convergence of traditional printed media and digitalization, is the focus of Brooke Erin Duffy’s book Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age. She begins by defining convergence, in relation to media industries, as:

“(1) the coming together of the components of print, electronic, and digital media on a singular device, and (2) the blurring of boundaries between media producers and consumers” (Duffy, 3).

This blur has been creating stress among traditional magazine producers, because the industry as they know it is rapidly transforming into, or converging with, digital production, distribution, and exhibition. If you were to type the title of almost any magazine into Google, you would see that the first given link is a link to the magazine’s online site—here you can read any article you choose, and more will be suggested as you read through others. The digital alternative is instant, more than often there is no cost (unless its a tablet app, which still would only be a small purchase fee to download), it is constantly updated as new stories surface, and you aren’t stuck with a physical magazine once it has been read through.  I think Duffy captures this idea best, when she writes:

“As content spills off the printed pages and across the internet, iPad/tablet, mobile, television, and retail industries, magazines are seemingly evolving from objects into brands” (Duffy, 5).

I agree with this, mostly because I find it hard to call People.com, for example, a magazine, because it does not encompass the traditional understanding of what a magazine is. But this is okay, because as we have discussed with television, the understand begins to evolve as the medium itself does. For the most part, it still serves the same purpose as it originally did, which is commercialism. Women’s magazines in particular, were (and are) used as a tool to penetrate the female consumer market through attractive advertisements, and who knows women better than women? This was the driving force behind hiring more women in the industry, but Duffy addresses that this was not a  decision motivated by politics, but rather, one motivated to influence consumerism among women. As always, advertisements are skillfully created to target specific demographics, and I would argue that digital mediums would influence consumerism. Mostly because, when one is already on a magazine brand’s website, they can just as instantly make a purchase online for a desired product featured in what they were just viewing.

sev-hilary-duff-amazing-cover-stars-012411-mdnDuffy also mentions how readers have long been able to submit stories, write letters to the editor, or ask for advice– which, if chosen by the editor, would find a place in a recent edition of a magazine (Duffy, 33). I was not to surprised to find that some find this to be,

“among the most insidious features of women’s magazines because it veils their commercial purpose” (Duffy, 33).

However, with many online magazines adopting the quiz trend, many young women spend time taking these quizzes to help identify themselves, in a way. For example, Seventeen Magazine, which is aimed at the adolescent girl demographic, provides style quizzes, beauty quizzes, celebrity quizzes, etc. These quizzes are all meant to determine things such as, which nail polish color, hairstyle, clothing trend, etc., is best for you based on one’s answers to a set of nonsensical questions. The aim here, is for these young girls to go out and purchase all these things that are pronounced “the best” for a certain individual. (Here is and example, I cautiously suggest that you give it a look, because the questions are comical, and maybe all you gents can get a sense of which nail polish color fits you best). Along with the results of the quiz, theres often a picture of the exact product from a brand, to influence female consumers to purchase it.

The fact that women’s magazines are meant to influence consumerism among women is hardly surprising, and with the onset of digital convergence, these digital mediums take advantage of all these can influence. Especially adolescent females, who spent hours upon hours trolling through style guides, and quizzes, may get caught up in what they think they need, which is exactly what the industry is looking for.

Duffy, Brooke Erin. Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age. Chicago: University of Illinois, 2013. PDF.

Images from Creative Commons




  1. Reblogged this on nessa's blog.

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