Sep 19, 2010

Snob - Magazine musing

I am puzzled… For those not in the know - Snob is a Russian-language magazine, coming to the US this September. It’s sold at B&N, so it’s not targeting the Brighton Beach crowd. Made me very curios to see what’s it all about – I do enjoy Linor Goralik lj and that’s how I learned about Snob originally.

I am still trying to understand what the product is, who the target audience is, and how marketing strategy ties one to the other… I looked through the pages - Snob does look good and a few pieces looked interesting, but Snob was the only magazine in its section in B&N, sealed in plastic and thus unavailable to browse over in the coffee shop (unless you are willing to break the rules of course :). (Which I did not! -just for the record! :)

I did not know what to expect from the presentation event yesterday – and it was nothing what I expected :). If it was a “meet the writer Linor Goralik” – it was quite nice, albeit there was some room for improvement when it came to logistic of the event. If it was a presentation for the new magazine… then it most likely was not… I’ve been wrong before, but my feeling is that something about Snob and its message will have to change in order to get the hearts and wallets of Russian-speaking Americans it claims to target.

Bottom line, it is an interesting idea and I think it has a lot of potential. Given the blockbuster funding (a rare luxury for the media these days, and especially Russian-language media in the US) and with the right people and strategy - there is a lot that Snob can achieve.


  1. Here are some details:

    Snob is owned by Mikhail Prokhorov. I read few Snobs and it made great impression, clearly a distinctive product targeting largely Russian-speaking intellectual elite, nostalgic for "fat magazine" times of Novyj Mir, etc. The web site, however, has general public appeal. IMHO, the US push of the magazine is in line with the new Russia's policy of reconciliation towards the emigration circles with longer term goal to bring some back and engage the rest in activities beneficial for mother Russia. With that in mind, I personally plan to enjoy reading the magazine (first three issues are free for US residents) as well as amusing exchanges on the web site.


  2. Thank you, Dima.

    I’ve seen the WSJ and BBG articles, and I more or less have an idea of what “the elite of Russia” means in Russia and London (people who made money over the last 20 years, strong geographical and cultural ties with Russia, well traveled, cosmopolitan etc). I am not sure I get what it would mean for the US, with all the different waves of Russian/Jewish/Urkainian immigration and considerably less people with the same type of affinity to Russia and all things Russian. Is Snob is a satellite of Nets and is its goal inot to bring money in, but to unify Russian speakers around the game? In this case I guess the outreach leaves out too many.

    I’ll give you an example – there are many successful people among 79ers. Does Snob target them? Most of them would not be nostalgic for “Fat magazine” (some even can’t read Russian ), but they are fluent in the language and might become Net fans.

    No doubt, the magazine is definitely nice and nothing beats the 0 intro price , but I am wondering whether it’s indeed aiming to feel the niche of “Novii Mir” or is it going after Russian speaking” Vanity Fair” readership? In other words, the product is good, but looking at it marketing strategy I can not help, but wonder what are the answers to two cornerstone questions: ”What is the market?” and “Can the product make money in this market?”

    The strategist/marketer in me is still curious :)

  3. Wouldn't it make sense writing about Russian language magazine in the language of readers, i.e. Russian?

  4. Thank you - and who says that musings should make sense in the first place? :)
    I reccomend reviewing postings on inconsistency and overthinking! :)

    Seriously though - I am not talking about Snob in general, I am sure it's a great success in Russia. I am talking about it's launch in the US, where it competes for the shelf space and reasers Vanity Fair and such. So it's not just the language of the magazine itself in play.

    Besides - when I write about all things marketing, it's much easier for me to do so in English, and I am big proponent of making life easy, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

  5. Just a shameless self promotion comment :) but have you seen this magazine yet?

    I would gladly send you a copy if you would like... curious to hear your thoughts!


  6. Thank you, Stephan.

    Not sure I've heard of Depesha (which also shows that I've missed a view of RCWS events, unfortunately).

    Would love to take a look.
    Please e-mail me: irina dot avtsin at personalconfidantency dot com

  7. "The Global Russians, as Snob calls the group, are crystallized from all of the above. Broadly speaking, the term indicates a combination of Russian culture and language with Western education, a well-stamped passport, and liberal Western views. The category is big enough to encompass a second-generation novelist, a fashion designer who arrived here at the age of 5, a businessman swinging by for a conference, and an NBA team owner. They’re not interested in the Russian ghetto of Brighton Beach or the Russian assimilated culture in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. They’re dismissive of the nouveau riche shoppers and clubbers. They think they’re better than those others are. They’re consumed by cosmopolitanism and all it entails. They strive, they snub; they are, by any definition, snobs. By the way, I am kidding no one with this �they� business. I’ve been here since 1998, English is my second language, and simple honesty prevents me from pretending I don’t want some small version of the same."

    That's an excerpt from an awesome article - a preview for "Snob" published back in May in NY Magazine (my bible).

    Some participants still seem like a weird choice (say, Lev Gr.zhonko, a fixture on Russian "Brighton style" TV.