By Max Willens
Barron’s, the Dow Jones-owned investment and finance publication, is hardly what you’d think of as a go-to for young people. After all, Barron’s boasts a third of its readers are C-level and enjoy a net worth around $3 million.
Rather than reorient a publication that’s been around for nearly a century, Barron’s has rolled out a digital offshoot, Barron’s Next, which traffics in quick analysis, video, and a custom-built stock index it hopes will give millennials an easy way to understand the economy and begin to take their first steps as investors.
“We think of them as consumers first,” said Alex Eule, the editor of Barron’s Next. “I think there’s a very big appetite and a very big need for this kind of journalism.”
Barron’s Next will publish five to six stock-specific stories per day, most around 200 words, a daily video reacting to market movements, plus a bevy of personal finance stories. While the topics on Next and Barron’s will be the same, the form of Next’s content is a far cry from the in-depth analyses typically found between the covers of an issue of Barron’s, where stories regularly stretch past 3,000 words.
What Next offers instead is a way for inexperienced, or unfamiliar readers, to familiarize themselves with the stock market and the Barron’s brand at the same time. The first key tool for doing that is the Next 50. Unlike the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which are designed to give a snapshot of all, or a good portion of the economy as a whole, the Barron’s Next 50 is more a collection of companies that “young consumers love,” according to an introductory post.
In other words, the Next 50 has Urban Outfitters, rather than Walmart or Target, and it has Tesla rather than General Motors. But it has also outperformed the stock market as a whole by a factor of seven over the past 10 years, and while the editors may tinker with Next 50’s contents in the coming months or years, Eule thinks its performance will say a lot about where the economy is going, and provide plenty of raw material for the publication’s staff to cover.
He also believes that a reference point for the markets, especially for young investors, can be useful. The Next 50, Eule said, is part of a broader mandate to explain things simply without dumbing them down, and give readers a firm way to understand things. “We don’t want to give you a thousand ways to think about something,” Eule said. “We want to give you one.”
Over the years, Barron’s has done a fine job reaching and keeping its audience. It has attracted over 425,000 subscribers, about a third of whom are digital-only, and they are just who you’d expect: Its readers’ average net worth is over $4 million, and they boast an average personal income of $300,000. But they are also not going to be around forever. The average age of a Barron’s print subscriber is 59, and its digital subscriber base isn’t much younger (56).
To grow its ranks of younger readers, it knew it had to try something different. But it also has to stand out: It faces competition from millennial-focused publishers including Vice and Mic, which have begun offering economic and personal finance coverage, as well as from Cheddar, a kind of CNBC for millennials, which recently began broadcasting live on Twitter.
One thing that will help is its ability to lean on other brands in the Dow Jones family. Barron’s Next already has a module on WSJ.com, its content has been running on MarketWatch, and ads will be running for it in a number of magazines, Barron’s included, where they began running in October.
“We’re excited to be a startup within a well-established brand,” Eule said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
This article first appeared on Digiday.