Torstar revamps The Kit

Responsive web design and a new shoppable e-letter highlight makeover

Torstar has given its three-year-old fashion and beauty product The Kit a fall makeover that includes more long-form content in print, responsive web design and native advertising opportunities.

Publisher Giorgina Bigioni said that the revamp came about as part of an ongoing examination of the multi-platform product. “We’re just never happy with it,” she said. “’How can we be better?’ is a question that crosses our mind on an almost daily basis.”

The refresh is based on three months of research with more than 6,000 readers that yielded more than 4,000 comments. It found that 56% of readers purchased a product or service featured in its content, while 60% searched for a product or service after seeing an ad for that product and 38% saved an article for future reference.

The research also found that 70% of readers shop online, which led to the development of the new Kit Shops shoppable e-newsletter featuring editor-curated products all of which can be purchased by clicking on the item.

The Kit currently has 82,000 subscribers for its three newsletters, which also include Wednesday’s Kit Chat and Sunday’s Kit Catch-up.

The Kit’s primary audience is women 25-49, although its print edition – which appears every Thursday in the Toronto Star as well as several Postmedia publications including The Gazette and Ottawa Citizen – skews slightly older.

The Kit’s competition is “everywhere” said Bigioni, from blogs to The Globe and Mail’s Globe Style to national fashion magazines like Flare. The Kit has low duplication against many of its rivals, she said, because it appeals primarily to mass audiences who, while caring about fashion and beauty, don’t regard them as a top priority.

The revamp of the multi-platform brand also includes a refreshed digital presence. TheKit.ca homepage has adopted a tile-based approach, with advertising no longer restricted to leaderboards and the right rail, and native advertising expected to play a more prominent role. “We’ve done it before, but we’re going to be doing it better,” said Bigioni.

Its digital magazine product has adopted a guide-type format that will be available for download for both tablet and mobile devices. The new product launches Sept. 15 with a fall hair guide, with two other guides following this year: A winter skin guide debuting Oct. 15, and a holiday survival guide appearing Nov. 15.

As part of the refresh, The Kit has also done away with its little-used PDF edition. “We didn’t like it, to be brutally honest,” said Bigioni. “Compared to the app, which is so rich and beautiful… it felt like a bit of a clunky browser experience.”

While Bigioni said the first six months of the year were “rather difficult” from a revenue perspective, she said the second half of the year is “looking much more promising,” as marketers and retailers ramp up for a new fashion season.

Torstar this year announced the sale of its Harlequin division and the recent closure of its weekly city magazine The Grid, but Bigioni said The Kit represents a key content area for the media company.

“[Torstar] would like to see The Kit grow,” she said. “The fashion and beauty sector is not one that has ever been big for [the company] so we’re trying to lead that charge.”

“In a short period of time we’ve become a brand, one that has attracted readers and followers and built a community,” said Bigioni. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done so far.”

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