’Did you spot the difference?’ a publisher eagerly asks. In front
of me lie two seemingly identical copies of NatWest’s HomeLife magazine
- its bold title, the strapline tantalisingly begging readers to ’win
pounds 1,000 worth of antiques’ and the photo of Gary Lineker are the
same on both covers. Inside, articles run the gamut from general
lifestyle (interior design, celebrity interview) to financial issues
(raising capital, NatWest news).
There is a subtle difference between the two copies, however. Close
examination reveals that one has articles about share dealing and buying
a property while the second has stories about inheritance and capital
gains tax plus advice on how to make a will. HomeLife, from Specialist
Publications, is aimed at two distinct and well-targeted ’life-stage’
groups: young mortgage holders and mature ones.
Clearly, the urge for publishers to refine the contract magazine market
further and further has hit. Segmentation is the new catchword and it
takes many forms. Some customer magazines, such as HomeLife, are
produced using identical text and images but with added pages that
target specific ’life-stage’ groups - from singles and young families to
pensioners. Other magazines are geographically segmented, for example
national editions with local copy printed alongside pan-European or
HomeLife’s publisher, Jim Addison, says: ’Segmentation allows the
opportunity of making a magazine that is more relevant to its target
audience, without enormous additional costs. Any publication you produce
has got to have the ’need to read’ factor, otherwise why would somebody
bother to read it? By segmenting, it means that you can address yourself
more specifically to particular areas of your target audience.’
A random survey of the leading contract publishing houses reveals that
segmented magazines are high on the agenda for 1997.
Forward continues its success with Tesco as the Clubcard Magazine is
about to launch a segmented magazine for a second client and is pitching
for a third.
Though Redwood Publishing’s TSB publication, MoneyTalk, is suspended
while the client discusses its future with Lloyds following its takeover
of TSB, the publisher produces Swarovski, for members of the Swarovski
crystal collector’s club, in eight languages and Psion User in
Premier, which publishes Nikon Pro in six languages, is currently
testing a segmented magazine for a major financial services company and
is about to trial another for a FTSE 100 client. Its High Life inflight
magazine for British Airways might be segmented in the future.
River Publishing produces the segmented Cardnet for Lloyds, has
developed IBM’s BankNotes and its new off-shoot, EuroNotes, and is about
to announce its latest segmented publication, a development of its Asda
The starting point for a successfully targeted segmented magazine is a
good database. This is the key to unlocking a wealth of information
about clients’ customers - age, title, purchasing habits, financial
situation, etc. Banks, building societies and financial services are
obvious groups with detailed databases, as are retail groups.
Supermarkets with loyalty card schemes, including Tesco’s Clubcard,
Sainsbury’s Reward card and Safeway’s ABC card, are ideal candidates for
such magazines because of the precise information they can garner about
customers’ buying preferences.
Sarah Morris, the brand development manager at Forward, views the
Clubcard Magazine as a ’marketing vehicle with magazine values’. Five
versions are sent quarterly to four-and-a-half million Tesco Clubcard
customers carefully segmented into life-stage groups. ’An emotional bond
is made with customers,’ Morris explains. ’We make the magazine relevant
to them by acknowledging that all customers aren’t the same.’
Each issue retains a core Tesco tone of voice, look and feel, yet the
editorial, products promoted, recipes and ads are completely
This is enormously useful for advertisers such as nappy manufacturers,
who will place an ad in the Clubcard Magazine targeted at families but
not in the other four groups.
Forward and Tesco, with its direct marketing approach, then tracks and
analyses customers’ purchasing habits. Data can then be presented to
advertisers showing that more units of a specific product in a specific
store were bought by a specific life-stage group in the weeks following
Much more data can be culled via such direct marketing devices as
questionnaires, competitions, 0898 numbers, special offers and customer
reply coupons scattered throughout the segmented magazine itself.
Financial institutions are well placed to produce segmented
Redwood’s TSB magazine, MoneyTalk, was produced in four versions - one
for mortgage and credit card customers, one for mortgage only, one for
credit card only and a fourth for customers with neither but who held
other TSB products.
Mike Potter, Redwood’s managing director, explains that in the financial
sector it is difficult to maintain a single high-circulation customer
magazine because it reaches such a diverse range of ABC1 people.
’Segmentation is going to happen but it’s not essential,’ Potter
’If you’re dealing with 150,000 Harvey Nichols customers it’s not
essential because they have sufficient commonality of interests. You
might differentiate the London and Leeds editions, as we do, but that’s
’Segmentation is where you take a one million, two million or even four
million circulation and divide it geographically, socio-demographically,
by life-stage or product purchasing habits and make it better
They only work if people read them and they will only be read if they
Publishers agree that the additional costs to the client are small in
relation to the increased targeting effect. Certainly, if two versions
of a customer magazine are produced, costs are not doubled but increase
by perhaps 10 to 15 per cent depending on the size of the print run. The
editorial and sales staff are already in place as are Apple Mac
technology and the facility for perfect bound printing, allowing
multiples of four-page sections to be dropped in at a low added
Segmentation builds brand image, according to Grahame Lake, the managing
director of TPD. He publishes Education Interface for Apple Computer in
five languages - an inner section featuring local news is bound with a
common outer section highlighting pan-European strategic issues. The
client loves it, Lake says, because Apple combines a consistent European
message with a sympathetic approach to local concerns. ’It gives Apple
complete control over brand issues,’ he claims.
For River Publishing’s client, IBM, the added costs have been worth
Keith Gold, the marketing manager, says that the BankNotes and EuroNotes
magazines successfully put forward the message that IBM focuses enormous
resources on ’solutions and services’ and not just hardware.
’Advertising is a very blunt instrument,’ Gold concludes. ’Magazines and
direct mail are high value and more effective than a one-page display ad
in the Financial Times, for example.’
A number of publishers approach segmentation with a sceptical eye.
Nicola Murphy, the sales and marketing director of River Publishing,
believes it can be ’dangerous’.
’You lose the opportunity to cross-sell. If you say this person is a man
who drives this car and is only interested in this particular insurance
product, what about his mother, who might be interested in a retirement
bond, and his wife, who is interested in something else?’
Premier’s managing director, Craig Waller, is equally cautious. ’There
is little point in rolling out a highly sophisticated, targeted magazine
to different segments of your database and wondering if it will
You have to do a trial, to a controlled group to keep costs down, and
get it measured every possible way you can. That way you can measure the