Same product, different markets
In the US Costco has its own magazine, The Costco Connection, that speaks to the local audience. Pacific+ was tasked by Costco to create an Australian version of the US magazine that would successfully address the local market, creating recognition of and trust in the brand, and growing new membership, membership retention and sales.
There were a number of inherent issues in creating an Australian Costco Connection. While the US has a culture of mail order catalogues and similar print publications, Australia does not, so part of the challenge was to create a visual and editorial identity that retained and represented Costco’s core values while meeting the local market’s interests and national sensibility.
The Costco Connection target audience ranges from small-business owners to families and bargain hunters, and all age and income demographics, taking into account Australia’s cultural diversity.
Engaging the consumer
The Costco proposition is unique: economies of scale in buying and the ability to provide unparalleled exposure enables the retail giant to strike competitive deals with its suppliers. Although many of the brands are upscale – Costco has a reputation for quality merchandise – the stock is stacked on pallets and the operation has been stripped to its efficiency essentials.
The scope of the content has to cover Costco’s enormous product range and the magazine also needs to pay for itself via advertising revenue. These goals have been integrated into editorial that reflects multiple interest perspectives but also has a strong ‘readability’ factor.
To do this we use a number of content pillars with broadly universal but at the same time personalised appeal: lifestyle choices, the discerning buyer, creating connection and recognition between local Costco suppliers and the consumer, and formulas for success in business and life. We deliberately avoid segmentation by niche to maximise uptake of content across the whole of the magazine.
The concept of getting the best deal or making the best choice – for various reasons including quality, exclusivity, effectiveness and appropriateness to personal or business needs – is core to the tone and delivery of the content.
To engender trust Costco specialists are presented as knowledge experts in particular areas of consumer interest, its suppliers are profiled along with their business values and practice, and recognised personalities or business identities with reputable profiles also contribute to editorial. Short items that help build a sense of the ‘Costco community’ by profiling Costco customers who are interesting for one reason or another, or who have a positive online presence linked to the brand, are also included.
This sense of integrity is furthered by dedicated editorial photo shoots that reflect an authentic, informal but considered Australian aesthetic. The use of hero images makes for feature-style editorial design, with brand elements formalised into breakouts. The visual signatures make use of Costco’s primary palette combined with bright tones to create a lifestyle publication with a vibrant look and feel.
The 44-page magazine is distributed by 25 per cent mail-out to the top tier of Costco customers and 75 per cent pick-up in store, with total uptake of the latter within three to five days of delivery. From a revenue generation point of view The Costco Connection is so successful with the client’s suppliers that advertising sells out two issues in advance.
Due to the magazine’s popularity the print run has increased from 100,000 to 120,000, and the frequency from quarterly in 2014/15 to bi-monthly by 2017.
We like to think that The Costco Connection plays a positive role in contributing to the continuing success of the brand in Australia.
44 pp magazine, 5 issues per year
The Costco Connection magazine (Australian edition)
December 15, 2015