The Ralph Lauren Model For Media: Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino Coins A Phrase

Basically: charge too little for content, no one will pay anything. Charge a lot for content, and people will pay.

You may be laughing at this. But I guarantee you anyone running a print media business is listening, and that this phrase will be repeatedly a lot in 2009. (Even if said people running said businesses should pay very close attention to the sentence I highlight below.) From Paid Content’s account of Scardino’s speech at this morning’s SIIA Industry Summit, emphasis added:

—The Ralph Lauren model: Scardino responded, saying essentially, if you charge enough for it, they will pay. Scardino: “Even with my failed newspaper in Savannah, we knew you had to balance subscriptions and ads. The Economist [which Pearson, through the FT, owns a 50 percent share] has that 50/50 balance. It’s easier for a magazine, especially a business one. But with newspapers, we’ve been able to price it too low for too long. I mean, a newspaper costs less than the price of a latte. We’ve pushed the price up at the FT and we found that our readership went up. It’s the Ralph Lauren affect—If you charge for higher for it, people will think it’s really good.” She went on to say that she refined that view earlier in her career as an attorney. But when clients discovered that she wasn’t worth the high rates she was charging them, she had to find another line of work.

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