Magazine article Marketing

Contract Titles Ooze Glamour of Glossies

Magazine article Marketing

Contract Titles Ooze Glamour of Glossies

Article excerpt

The National Magazine Company last week appeared to knock some of the glamorous sheen off the glossy magazine market when it announced it was entering the contract publishing business.

The publisher of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Company, Esquire, and Good Housekeeping, had finally decided to get its hands dirtied in the world of contract printing - producing a title for Tesco that will be published at Christmas with a circulation of 3.75m for the supermarket chain's Clubcard members.

But will NatMags' move damage its standing among advertisers seeking upmarket brands in which to advertise? Its main rival, Conde Nast, clearly doesn't think so; last month it also announced it had set up a joint contract publishing venture with Forward Publishing to look at a range of specialist customer magazines in the luxury goods sector.

Combining experience

Conde Nast is also looking at contract publishing catalogues, brochures and books. The venture with Forward will combine Forward's experience of the contract market with Conde Nast's own skills and brand value as a quality magazine publisher.

Until now, the glossy publishing houses have stood aloof from the growth in contract publishing, which has seen its market double in value from [pounds]45m to [pounds]90m in the past five years.

More than 70% of that growth has been accounted for by a boom in customer magazines, with high street retailers, banks and car companies queuing up to launch their own customer publications.

Many magazine publishers have been keen to cash in on the market. Companies such as Redwood and Forward began to refer to themselves as publishing agencies, available to offer their expertise and services to clients wanting to enter the customer publishing market.

But as the market has matured, the quality of the magazines being produced has improved dramatically. Publications for companies such as Sainsbury's, Boots and Marks & Spencer have become virtually indistinguishable from the traditional glossies on sale at the local newsagents.

And it is this improvement in quality that has led to the likes of NatMags deciding that it has a role to play in the market.

In fact, with escalating newsprint costs forcing magazines to raise ratecard prices and in some cases decrease pagination, they may have decided that they can no longer afford to stay out of it. …

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