Customer magazines are a worthless drain on readers’ leisure time
which threaten to detract from the appeal of consumer titles, according
to Joanne O’Hara, Gruner & Jahr’s group advertising director.
O’Hara told delegates attending the PPA debate on the merits of customer
magazine publishing: ’Customer magazines have the effect of further
fragmenting people’s leisure time but not adding real value.’
In an extraordinary attack, she continued: ’Magazine fatigue from
customer titles is a real threat to consumer magazines. But these
magazines don’t actually satisfy the wants or needs of the readers. It
can only be likened to living on a diet of junk food which, in the end,
often leaves you longing for a real meal.’
O’Hara unveiled research commissioned by G&J from Millward Brown and
BMRB which looked at the dynamics of customer magazines versus
traditional titles. The survey found that half the readers of contract
titles read them because they were free, with money-off coupons
providing a major motivation to pick up the magazines.
O’Hara said: ’People don’t believe you can get something for nothing.
Contract publishers don’t seem to realise that paying is part of the
process. If you get something for nothing then it doesn’t really have
any value to you.’
Jules Rastelli, publishing director at Redwood Publishing, hit back by
claiming that contract publishing introduced magazines to readers who
had never considered the medium before.
Rastelli claimed 71 per cent of Homebase Living readers, for example,
did not read any of the top ten home interest magazines.
The area where consumer magazines are threatened by contract publishing
titles is ad revenue, according to Rastelli. ’Advertisers see customer
magazines as offering unique coverage of key audiences.’