Monday, July 19, 2010

Can Vogue Africa Be Economically Viable?

Mario Epayna (a Cameroonian artist and photographer) has been chatting up launching Vogue Africa for some time now.

I said to myself "this is great!" All bias aside, Vogue Africa makes sense to me given the growth of Africa’s population, the success of the World Cup in South Africa, and the rise in the middle class in various regions of the continent.

Well, lo and behold in what’s has to be one this century’s head scratching business moves, Conde Nast (well Conde Nast France actually) has put the kabash on launching Vogue Africa. Epayna announced this on his Facebook page last week.

When I heard the news, the questions that came immediately to mind for me:

Does Conde Nast France operate as a surrogate for vetting new ventures and titles for Conde Nast International outside of North America?

Was Conde Nast International even aware of this fledging concept?

Did anyone inside Conde Nast conduct a SWOT analysis before pulling the plug on this publication?

Where are the results from the market analytics report?

Then, I got busy. You see, I’m a visual and data/evidence based girl so I need to see the math and growth potential of this publication before I start name calling. My objective was to see whether or not the market/continent of Africa could financially support a venture like this.

Here’s what I learned:

According to the UN’s population fund, Africa ‘s population tops 1 billion with Black Africans constituting the largest ethnic group inside the country (BBC)

The Economist wrote that the “past 15 years have seen Africa’s fastest-ever period of economic growth.” (The Econonist & Annansi Chronicles)

In spite of a tanking economy in most parts of the developed world, Africa has plenty of economic success stories according to The World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa

So if Vogue Africa became a reality it appears that it has a really good shot of succeeding in its primary market.

Then I thought about the possible secondary markets (North and South America) where large populations of people of African descent live. It is highly likely that there is enough of a subscription pool to support Vogue Africa in spite of declining ethnic magazine sales in both of these regions.


Well, we can point to the financial success of the all Black Vogue Italia in 2008. This special issue caused such a fury that it prompted a re-printing. It became clear to me that Black people are hungry for high quality, high fashion images of us in a global publication.

What a shame it will be if Conde Nast passes on this opportunity. Hopefully, someone with clout inside the company will provide us with an official statement. Maybe we'll be able to better understand their rationale.

Or I will start name calling.