Hearst is taking a cue from the explosive growth of lifestyle coverage and wellness culture by launching a new media vertical called Glo, a website designed to meet demand for health-related content.
While competitors Condé Nast, Meredith and Rodale all have dedicated health and fitness publications (Self, Shape and Women’s Health, respectively), Glo will be Hearst’s first entirely health-centric brand. The brand, slated to launch this fall, was described as a “video-first millennial media brand” during Hearst’s NewFront’s presentation in New York City on Wednesday Night. Glo was inspired by an increase in web traffic to wellness content across all of Hearst’s publications, said Kate Lewis, svp and editorial director at Hearst Magazine Digital Media.
“I don’t know that there are media brands that truly reflect a pursuit of wellness that can fit into a real woman’s life,” she said. “There are many excellent fitness sites out there catered to devotees, but we want to grab everyone, including people going to one spin class a week.”
Though Glo’s video teaser showed an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek tone — featuring clips like Broad City characters Abbi and Ilana struggling through a workout class — Lewis said the site will take itself seriously. It’s designed for all levels of health, and will tackle topics like fitness, sleep, relationships and self care. While video is its top priority, it will also include reported articles crafted by a team comprised of existing Hearst staffers and outside hires. (Hearst is still solidifying an editor-in-chief for the brand.)
Glo also comes on the scene as several other health and wellness sites continue to emerge: Just last month, Clique Media Group launched The Thirty. a vertical focused on a holistic and accessible approach to wellness. While this sounds similar to Hearst’s schtick, Lewis said Glo will set itself apart by talking about less discussed, and perhaps more taboo topics, “like farting during yoga class.”
“Most media in the wellness space is utility focused: I want flat abs, here’s how you get them. I need more sleep, here’s how you do it,” she said. “This will be about the journey as much as achieving the goal.”
The growth of health media sites correlates to a lifestyle shift among Americans following the emergence of the obesity epidemic in the 1980s. According to data from Edited, the sale of carbonated beverages has decreased consistently from 2004 to 2014, while water sales have been on the rise — at the same time, one in five people have a gym membership. Now media companies want a piece of the estimated $390 billion fitness and exercise market, and $277 billion health and nutrition market.
Though Hearst has found success with its food vertical, Delish — which was founded on the premise of sharing entertaining cooking videos à la Buzzfeed’s Tasty — Glo will need to elbow its way to the front of media players in the increasingly saturated health space. Lewis said Glo will do this by appealing to readers trying to make fitting wellness into their busy schedules a priority, but not necessarily a top priority.
Ultimately, Glo is aiming to tap an audience of women who exercise, but do so “without obsessiveness,” Lewis said. This deviates from a media company like Rodale, which, in addition to Women’s Health, owns Runner’s World, Prevention, Organic Life and Bicycling — all publications that cater to the more devout exerciser.
“Good media is entertaining, fundamentally. Our goal is to entertain readers,” she said. “We’ve shown a real aptitude for keeping our audiences hyper-engaged.”