Media Analysis: Original Thinking

Article excerpt

Hachette's latest title is taking a weightier approach to exploring women's lives. Will it succeed, asks Claire Murphy.

To judge from the successful magazines of recent years, women are shallow creatures, obsessed with staring at pictures of celebrities (Heat) who are wearing the latest catwalk styles (InStyle, Glamour). When they are not doing that, they like to indulge their inner domestic goddess by poring over explanations of how to de-clutter their wardrobe or which fake flowers to buy (Woman & Home).

Trite stereotypes aside, magazines can reflect numerous facets of a women's life. But one area that has barely been addressed in these titles is the way in which women think and behave: their inner life. This is the subject of Hachette Filipacchi's UK launch, Psychologies, which hit the newsstands last week backed by a pounds 2m poster campaign.

The magazine aims to address how women relate to others and themselves with features that refer to psychological research. This is inevitably a meatier read than the average women's magazine, but the Psychologies team tries to balance this with coverage of celebrities.

The launch issue features cover star Meg Ryan talking about her mid-life crisis, and musician Chrissie Hynde on her attitudes to life. Other features cover women's relationships with their mothers, and how to stop negative thinking. Celebrity columnists are clinical psychologist Oliver James, philosopher Alain de Botton and comedian-turned-psychologist Dr Pamela Connolly.

Celebrity features differ from the usual women's magazine fare in that they are much more focused on the subject's attitudes rather than their latest project. While it incorporates articles on beauty, food and travel, it comes from a uniquely Psychologies perspective - one feature asks what makes women alluring, while another brings readers details of escapist jobs from overseas.

Editorial mix

It is the kind of subject matter that people are increasingly interested in, says Julie Harris, general manager of the women's group at Hachette.

'There is much more interest now in issues of positive living. The Saturday Times launched its 'Body and Soul' section and we've noticed that Easy Living now has an emotional intelligence section.'

'We wanted to produce a title that combined the warmth and engagement of a magazine with the expert journalism and in-depth research that you would get from the broadsheet newspapers,' she adds.

Psychologies is a big hit in France, where it ranks third behind Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan with a circulation of 350,000. Hachette has more modest ambitions for the UK, aiming for 100,000. Following research, it has tweaked the editorial style to include more humour and practical features.

Unique readers

Hachette hopes Psychologies will prove sufficiently different to any other UK women's title that it will attract readers who do not regularly buy a magazine. Half the readers of the French edition fall into this category - a high proportion compared with most magazines. …