Condé Nast is no stranger to bringing its U.S. publications to global markets, but now it’s running the play in reverse.
La Cucina Italiana, a 90-year-old Italian cooking publication, is expanding this month to the U.S. market with a quarterly print publication and digital presence that will be supported by both ads and digital subscriptions. The move to the U.S. is part of the brand’s global expansion, with publications currently existing outside of Italy in Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Serbia, and future iterations subsequently coming to the UK, Germany, France, and Spain in the near future.
For the U.S. edition, the editorial model is to keep the majority of the content creation in Italy, with the content being translated and repackaged for the U.S., complemented by a freelancer network managed by a New York-based editor. Each edition will have its own sales team to focus on clients within that country’s market, however Condé is looking to integrate marketing operations.
Maddalena Fossati, who serves as editor-in-chief of La Cucina Italiana and will become the global editor-in-chief for the international editions, said that the brand’s editorial approach will change based on the country that its looking at because a recipe or a layout that appeals to an Italian audience might not work as well for France or Germany or the United States since each culture has different tastes and cultural interests.
The Italian audience has changed a lot since she joined the magazine in 2017, and she attributes the 20% growth in subscriptions to her effort in diversifying age and gender, which is what she hopes to achieve in the U.S. as well.
“We still have grandmas, but we also have a younger audience too,” she said.
For Condé, the expansion is an outgrowth of its global integration strategy that will bring together its U.S. and international arms. This model is similar to the recent reorganization that Condé Nast undertook with its CN Traveler/Traveller brands last year where it combined the U.S. and UK editorial staffs into one operation under global editor-in-chief Melinda Stevens.
The Italian title currently has a print circulation of 50,000, a digital-issue subscriber base of 100,000, and a digital reach of 5 million users per month. Fossati said that there are plans to bring the school to the U.S. as part of its partnership with Eataly, which will distribute La Cucina’s print magazine in its six stores (soon to be seven after Eataly opens in Toronto later this year).
The move is also a test of La Cucina’s diversified business model that complements ads with subscriptions and a cooking school that opened in Milan in 1987. The cooking school, which attracts 8,000 students a year paying between €100 ($110) and €600 ($660) for courses, now contributes 30% of La Cucina’s revenue, according to Fossati.
There are plans to bring the school to the U.S. as well, furthering its partnership with Eataly, though that timeline has not been solidified yet. And as it is a solid line of business for the brand, the company said that it makes more sense to keep the school under La Cucina’s name, rather than transfer the model to Bon Appétit, which has a significant following in the U.S. already. However, the company states “there will be synergies between the two which we are exploring.”
More recently, La Cucina has launched several other businesses over the past few years, including a catering business, books, a Food Network Italy show, a university nutrition program, and digital cooking classes that viewers can purchase through Vodafone.
Food publications in the U.S. have also been recently moving towards finding a mix of consumer-based and ad businesses. The New York Times Food vertical is launching its first food festival this month that is both ticketed and sponsored. Food52 received a significant round of funding because of its continued push towards commerce and DTC.
Fossati said that the streaming business has a significant impact because they see 1 million users currently on the platform who pay for that content. Meanwhile, the book deals that La Cucina has contribute a significantly smaller portion, around 5%.
The digital cooking classes will also be introduced to the U.S. in the beginning of November, as this is a major revenue source for La Cucina, and the company is aiming to bring the TV series over as well.
“We come to America with a lot of passion and happiness because it’s a country where Italians feel so comfortable in general,” said Fossati.