Girlswalker: The Future of Fashion Magazines?


Girlswalker is the coolest youth mobile magazine from that coolest/cutest country for the youth: Japan [Kawaii, as the Japanese might say…]. Personally, I have loved the idea of Girlswalker ever since I first learned about the project from my dear friend and Japan mobile guru, Lars Cosh-Ishii a few years ago. Recently, a good friend Alan Moore gave us an update on Girlswalker during his lecture at Oxford University last month.

Girlswalker - Tokyo Girls Fashion M-ZineSo what is it? Girlswalker is a teen youth girl’s fashion magazine, on mobile phones. Its premise – they follow and report on what the coolest Tokyo teen girls are doing and wearing. Tokyo is a fashion hub and Tokyo girls are known as global fashion trend-setters. And there are all those other 100 million Japanese who are not living in Tokyo, and all the teen girls out of those, who don’t get to visit the fashion districts of Tokyo to see what the coolest thing to wear and to do is. So enter Girlswalker. Every Japanese teen has a mobile phone. As Japan was the country to invent the mobile internet and the first country to launch 3G and all Japanese phones have already been migrated to 3G [Japan has shut down its 2G networks already, the first country to do so], all Japanese girls have a pocket device capable of accessing a mobile internet magazine, with color pictures, video clips, and stories from the Tokyo youth scene.

So far so good. The concept was actually to see what Tokyo girls wear, and to show that to the rest of Japanese teen girls, so they can be just as cool as the Tokyo girls. And this mobile magazine took off with a bang. They became so popular, that now they run twice yearly fashion shows in huge venues, where they do not feature supermodels walking on the catwalks, the ‘models’ are just like all pictures and videos in Girlswalker – they are the real teenager girls from Tokyo. And that too is a Japan style technology masterpiece – they sell fashion items in real time, as the girl walks on the catwalk, you just point your cameraphone at the model, and take a picture, and then buy the fashion item on the spot, in your size and to your colors etc… Magical.

I think anyone reading this, can see the parallel, this concept should work just as well in France as Paris Girls, or in the USA as Manhattan Girls or in Brazil as the Paulista Girls etc… Right? But now the awesome bit. Alan told Oxford University that the redemption rates of the advertisements on Girlswalker are averaging…. [Drum roll]…. 45%!!! Yes. Averaging 45% redemption rate. Previously, the awesome award-winning BMW engagement marketing campaign that had a 30% conversion rate to its mobile coupons. That was one campaign. This is regular, consistent, sustained mobile ad redemption rate that is 50% better! At 45% redemption rate for fashion ads what fashion brand would NOT want to advertise on Girlswalker? I do not know how they monetize the ads, but if I was in charge, I would simply auction off the ad space, and take what the market can sustain. These mobile magazine ads in Japan must be far more valuable than prime time TV ads on the highest rated TV shows…

This is the future of magazines and the future of advertisements. And obviously I am featuring Girlswalker in all my seminars and workshops from now on, as the pinnacle of how to do opt-in, personally relevant and targeted ads in mobile, so good, that the audience thinks of the ads not as advertising, but as desirable content.

Now, you print media barons out there, who does the first clones of this? Remember, you don’t want to do this as an app for a smartphone. Do it as a WAP youth magazine that works on all phones, and then do a web variant on dot Mobi principles i.e. optimized for mobile internet. Don’t bother with an app for this segment I want to hear how you do in your markets. This idea truly deserves to spread. Shanghai Girl? Toronto Teen? Moscow Chic?