The new breed of China's fashion-conscious readers is reflected in the large number of publications available to them. One press vendor says she carries more than 60 magazines whose readers are primarily female office workers.
Most of these publications have an online version related to the print version or offer specific online content by dedicated editorial staff.
"Offline" and "online" fashion magazines are important for the products they advertise, focusing on premium and luxury brands.
Today, China's luxury market accounts for 6 billion euros (US$ 8 billion) or 3 percent of the global market. China and Brazil are projected to be the two fastest-growing luxury markets for the five years through 2012, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.
It is estimated that if China continues to grow at this pace, the nation will surpass Japan as the world's largest luxury goods market within five years.
In light of the stakes, investment in advertising by major luxury brands in China is of strategic importance. Consequently, women's fashion magazines, among the first to harvest this manna, are highly competitive in attracting and keeping advertisers, which invest not only in the printed press but in electronic publishing as well.
Our study focuses on a panel of websites comprising the four leading players in this segment of the press in China today: Elle (Hachette Filipacchi Medias), Rayli, Vogue (CondéNast), and Cosmopolitan (Hearst Magazines).
As is the case with any means of communication, it is important for these sites to aim for excellent visibility. Good referencing will certainly attract a potential readership, but to keep it the site must be accessible and perform well. To what extent is this put into practice?
By way of response, ip-label.newtest measured the performance of the Chinese websites of four leading fashion magazines, in an end-user environment, the way an internet user would perceive it, from 12 of the largest cities in China*.
The table below is built on a 100-point index on the basis of two indicators: the rate of successful connection, and how long it takes for the pages to display fully.
With scores of 81.4 and 79.7 points out of 100, the Chinese internet sites of Elle and Rayli are at the head of the pack. The score for the Cosmopolitan site, for the month of July, lags slightly behind at 76.8 points. These three sites show relatively similar overall performance.
In contrast, the Chinese version of the Vogue website presents significantly inferior performance overall.
Vogue's performance vague in China
The graph of overall performance highlights Vogue's performance shortcomings with respect to the other sites in the panel. But concretely, what do these scores mean for the Chinese internet user?
To get to the bottom of the reasons for such a poor score, it should be noted that the availability indicator represents the percentage of visitors who were able to view the site's home page in full.
With a success rate of slightly over 89 percent from 1 to 31 July 2009, Vogue's performance excluded an average of 11 in 100 visitors from viewing its Chinese site; in other words, over one in ten! These internet users were victims of a particularly "heavy" site made up of very dynamic graphical elements that are pleasing to the eye, but slow to display. Their slowness in loading leads to user frustration.
*Measurements made from Beijing, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Guangzhou (Canton), Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Zhengshou, Xi'an.
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