MEDIA: BEST - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Claudine Collins thinks Best's addition of a celebrity section shows how it values its readers

There are 14 titles in the women's weekly/celebrity sector which command a cover price revenue of £11.7 million per week.

At the last ABCs, the overall market was up by 1.7 per cent. Much of this minor increase was due to the continued growth of the celebrity sector with Heat up 106 per cent year on year and Now up 17 per cent.

So now Best has improved its offering by adding a celebrity section called "Celebrity Insider in a bid to achieve standout from its nearest rival Bella.

Best and Bella are almost interchangeable by their front covers and contents page. On a recent issue of Best the coverlines were: "Lose 7lb in 7 days and "50 fashion beach buys". Bella's the week after were: "Lose all those flabby bits and 4lbs and "Classic summer clothes. They won't date and you'll look great! One of them needed a USP and Best got there first.

Both magazines are targeting the B,C1,C2 woman aged 25 to 44. Bella is priced at 66 pence and Best has just increased its cover price by 2 pence to 68 pence. Will this make a difference in terms of losing circulation?

I doubt it, as their readers are getting exactly what they want for their money.

"Celebrity Insider is the second phase of development at Best. The process started in October last year with a makeover to make it a cleaner, smarter weekly package. It had already tried the celebrity content on two previous occasions - one a covermounted mini-mag and then a 16-page special in the magazine. Best's research found firstly that readers enjoyed celebrity coverage but wanted more than superficial details.

Secondly, they didn't want anything to be taken away from the magazine as it is.

So what is the outcome? On the negative side I am not quite sure why "Celebrity Insider is called a "mini mag". It isn't - it is an extra eight pages of celebrity info. Second, I felt that the first issue was slightly disappointing in that Davina McCall's drink and drug hell and Michael J Fox's illness have already had more exposure than Jordan's top half.

However, Best's duplication with celebrity magazines is low and therefore its readers may not have seen these articles before. Quite frankly, "Celebrity Insider is exactly what Best readers want - they get the triumph over tragedy element and an extra eight pages.

What difference does it make if Best gets thrown the line that "it is jumping on the bandwagon"? If that is what its readers want, then give it to them. And it has. So let's not knock it - improvements and investment behind magazines is always beneficial.

- Claudine Collins, the press director at MediaCom, claims to be more in the target market of Conde Nast Traveller than of Best.

Publisher: The National Magazine Company
Frequency: Weekly
Circulation: 430,433
Full-page ad rate: £20,055
Advertisers include: Boots, Hellmann's, Sainsbury's, Sure, Macleans 40+

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