Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Conde Nast Takes 30-Plus Plunge

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Conde Nast Takes 30-Plus Plunge

Article excerpt

After a false dawn in the 90s, the pounds 15m launch of Easy Living suggests the market is maturing.

Conde Nast's entry into the 30-something women's glossy market with its pounds 15m launch of Easy Living next spring, alongside recent encouraging ABC sales figures for existing titles She, Red, Eve, and the 40-plus Good Housekeeping, suggest that the sector may finally be coming of age.

It has been a long, hard slog to establish the sector among readers and ad-vertisers. At the end of the 90s, when Bridget Jones became the female icon of the age, publishers rushed to cash in by launching titles targeting a generation of women that had outgrown the '10 orgasms a night' promised in the pages of Cosmopolitan, but who were not ready for Woman's Own's cosy domesticity.

The target market, euphemistically described as 'middle youth' and comprising 5m affluent UK women - an advertisers' dream - seemed to present publishers with a lucrative, perceptible business model.

But the difficulties in finding an editorial formula that matched the disparate lifestyles of Bridget Jones singletons, would-be 'nesters', and women juggling careers with raising children, resulted in the closures of three of the new titles - Aura, Bare and PS - within 12 months.

The remaining two, Red and Eve, propped up by the marketing muscle of Emap and BBC Magazines respectively, limped on while failing to achieve their launch sales targets.

New-found strength

The past 12 months have been more encouraging. Evidence that editors have now successfully fine-tuned their approach, by concentrating on core brand strengths, was provided by the latest ABCs for the July to December 2003 period, when the 30-plus sector recorded the highest growth of any women's magazine category (see table).

The apparent rebirth of the sector has triggered fresh interest from publishers, with two titles scheduled for launch next year. IPC's Project Allegro, which promotes a holistic health, environment and escapist take on the 30-something lifestyle, thought to be based on parent Time Inc's US title Real Simple, is in research, with no launch date set.

Then there is the confirmed debut of Easy Living. Like its last launch, Glamour, Conde Nast intends to hit the market with all guns blazing, and has earmarked pounds 15m for marketing, spread over three years.

Officially, Easy Living is targeting a broad demographic of 30- to 59-year-old ABC1 and C2 women, but Conde Nast managing director Nicholas Coleridge reveals it will be positioned between Red and Good Housekeeping, with an expected median age of 37.

As he did with Glamour, Coleridge has imported expertise from rival NatMags by poaching Good Housekeeping publisher Chris Hughes to take up the role at Easy Living.

A particular taste in style will be the common thread that binds the audience who may be in different life stages, says Coleridge. This will be carried across all Easy Living's content - fashion, furnishings, food, health and beauty - but Coleridge declines to define it. …

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