Media: Double Standards - How to target women with Sunday supplements

The editors of women's sections that go head to head every Sunday explain why there is a gap in the market for their titles.

NICOLA JEAL - EDITOR, OBSERVER WOMAN

- Who are your key competitors?

All newspaper supplements. With Observer Woman, we are dealing with quite a wide range of subjects, so we are not just addressing the fashion and beauty market.

- Is it hard to stand out when there are so many women's magazines on offer to readers?

Yes, that is the most difficult challenge facing newsstand titles and free supplements. Obviously, it is more important for the former because sales are all about newsstand appeal, but it is increasingly the case with supplements too. We have tried to create a woman's magazine that is a bit different in terms of subjects, and in the fact that we actively want it to be read by men.

- What are the key ingredients of a successful national newspaper supplement?

Every supplement should have must-read regulars. If you ask readers in a focus group what features they remember from various supplements, the answer will always be an old favourite such as A Life In The Day Of (The Sunday Times), This Much I Know (The Observer Magazine), The Measure (Guardian Weekend), What's In Your Basket? (Observer Food Monthly) ... these are what define titles.

- What is the best thing about your magazine?

The writers. We are using The Observer's stable of fantastic writers. In this first issue we have Rachel Cooke, Phil Hogan, Polly Vernon, Robert McCrum, Louise France, Carole Cadwalladr ... In future issues we will have features by William Leith, Gaby Wood, Geraldine Bedell and Lynn Barber.

- Do newspapers have a future?

I hope so, otherwise I am out of a job!

- How can magazine supplements arrest the circulation decline?

Supplements used to be the icing on the cake. Now, in many cases, they have become the reason to buy a newspaper. If a newspaper supplement offers a great free package that a reader would be prepared to pay for on the newsstands, then it is a success and will boost circulation. Niche supplements such the Observer Sport Monthly have done this to great effect.

- If your magazine were a female celebrity, which one would it be and why?

What a daft question. Pete Burns.

- Which other magazines are you most impressed by? And why?

I actually prefer reading newspapers - I read them all every day. Saying that, I love Grazia. Vogue is my first choice each month - it is a habit I don't think I will ever break. My favourite foreign mag is New York magazine.

- What is the one thing you can not do without at work?

My team. My contacts book.

- Who do you most admire in the media?

Roger Alton and John Mulholland at The Observer; Max Hastings (I worked for him at the Evening Standard) and Simon Kelner, who I worked for at The Observer years ago. They all have a great sense of humour and fairness.

ANNA MURPHY - EDITOR, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH'S STELLA MAGAZINE

- Who are your key competitors?

Stella is aimed at readers from all the other quality and mid-market newspapers. What's more, we are also going head to head with newsstand magazines - only the other day, a glamorous, high-powered female executive told me she was now reading Stella instead of Vogue.

- Is it hard to stand out when there are so many women's magazines on offer to readers?

The newsstand may be crowded, yet in newspapers there has been remarkably little targeted at women, and what there was seemed aimed at very particular readerships: either young, clubby and urban, or quite old and fuddy-duddy. The idea for the magazine started from a conversation between my editor, Sarah Sands, and me. Sarah is in her forties, I am in my thirties: neither of us could think of a newspaper supplement aimed at us; yet we represent the most powerful consumer spending group there is.

- What are the key ingredients of a successful national newspaper supplement?

A magazine that works as part of the bigger picture but can stand on its two feet as well. What has been great about the two months since the launch of Stella is the huge positive response from readers old and new, and from advertisers.

- What is the best thing about your magazine?

That, right from the start, Stella had such a clear sense of its own identity - and that of its reader. These days, women aren't defined by age so much as by state of mind - a 45-year-old can be interested in the same things as a 25-year-old.

- Do newspapers have a future?

The futures of newspapers and the internet go hand in hand. The Telegraph website is a key part of what we do here at The Sunday Telegraph. But do I think printed newspapers will disappear? Absolutely not. In terms of news, it is still national newspapers that set the agenda.

- How can magazine supplements arrest the circulation decline?

What Stella has set out to do is be irresistible to readers, new and old. Thanks to our superlative production and editorial values, women will hopefully feel they don't need to buy anything else all week.

- If your magazine were a female celebrity, which one would it be and why?

Kate Winslet. She's English, for starters. But she also has all the qualities that you will find on the pages of Stella - she's beautiful, clever, warm, funny, stylish.

- Which other magazines are you most impressed by? And why?

American titles such as Harper's Bazaar and US Elle. Not only are these magazines great to look at - and full of user-friendly fashion - they also have original, incredibly well-written features.

- What is the one thing you can not do without at work?

My deputy!

- Who do you most admire in the media?

Anyone who reaches retirement age.