Last week’s launch of Contract China is the first of what global media company VNU hopes will be several ventures by its b-to-b publications to get a foothold in China, the world’s largest market.
Contract China, a brand extension of Contract (30,500 circ.), is being marketed through VNU Business Media Asia. It has an initial circulation of 17,500 and is being sent to prequalified recipients at some of the biggest national and regional architectural and design firms in China. These firms include CIDA (Coalition for Interior Design Accountability) and ICIAD (International Council of Interior Architects and Designers).
The publication, which is being published in English and simplified Chinese with headline in English, is also being distributed to key executives at Fortune 500 companies operating in China and the Fortune Top 100 Chinese companies. It will run three times this year and go to a bimonthly frequency beginning in 2007. Edit-to-ad ratio will be approximately 60/40.
“The Chinese government is starting to embrace b-to-b publishing in terms of how it can help educate managers on best practices,” said Jonathan Ross, CEO of VNU Business Media Asia. “Managers are hungry for that type of information.”
With the Chinese market starting to get saturated with consumer-oriented magazines, Ross said, local publishers have started exploring the potential of b-to-b media.
Technology publisher IDG Corp. has had a major presence in China since 1980. Earlier this decade IDG established a partnership with Reed Business Information to co-publish b-to-b media products in China, such as packagingdigest.com. Now with VNU jumping into the fray, other b-to-b publishing investments in China may follow.
Distribution of Contract China will be concentrated in a handful of China’s major cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xian.
VNU also plans to produce two trade shows next year in connection with the magazine: China Design & Construction Expo and the Hospitality Design Show.
In addition to best practices, Contract China’s editorial will focus on industry trends, new products, materials and technology, and marketing advice. An accompanying Web site (www.contractchinamag.com) features additional content and, within the next month or so, will start to include links to source materials for interior designers operating in commercial markets. There are currently 550,000 people working in China’s interior design industry, according to VNU.
“Up until very recently the major factor for building in China was cost, and interior design was something that was considered once the building was completed,” Ross said. “But with the build-up to the [2008 Summer] Olympic Games in China and China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization [in 2002], you’re starting to see high-end construction components in the beginning of the project.”
Initial advertisers in Contract China include Formica Corp., Herman Miller Inc. and Shaw Industries.
Stephen Perkins, international marketing director at Herman Miller, said his company is committed to the first three issues of Contract China as “part of an extensive marketing strategy in Asia.”
Ross said Contract China can be a media vehicle for “any product involved in high-quality construction.”