When it comes to UK consumer magazines, some demographics are better catered for than others.
Schoolgirls, for instance, are spoilt for choice. Young men, particularly thoughtless, horny ones, have never had it so good. But, if you're a deep-thinking woman aged over 35, you may have to search your newsagents a little bit harder for a good read.
Now help is at hand from the land of Descartes and Sartre, as Hachette Filipacchi prepares to launch Psychologies, a copy-heavy women's monthly that promises to get beneath the surface.
The title is aimed at women aged 35 to 55 who are frustrated at the lack of thought-provoking reading matter available. While it will tackle familiar topics such as health, food and careers, Psychologies will steer clear of shopping and fashion. "It will be very different," Julie Harris, the general manager of Hachette's Women's Group, explains.
"It's aimed at women who have gone through a lot of life experience, who have achieved a great deal socially and emotionally.
We believe these women are crying out for something genuinely engaging.
"There's a load of magazines out there about the external - how you look, how you get your man, how your life looks etc. This mag is more concerned with how women feel," she adds.
Hachette toyed with the idea of changing the magazine's name from the French edition, but has stuck with Psychologies in the belief the unusual title will stand out on the newsagents' shelves. If that alone doesn't work, there will be an £8 million launch campaign from Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest to assist.
Hachette Filipacchi has put in 18 months of research, and now the pressure is on the title to justify that patience.
1. Hachette Filipacchi UK is a subsidiary of Hachette Filipacchi Medias, one of the world's largest magazine publishers, which has a presence in 36 countries and publishes 245 titles. The company's most famous offerings include Paris Match and Elle.
2. The company's UK arm was created in October 2002 following the purchase of Attic Futura. Emap's Kevin Hand was brought in to run the operation and is today its chairman. Hachette had previously published several titles in the UK via a joint venture with Emap. However, when this was dissolved following the Attic deal, Hachette took sole control of Elle, Elle Girl, Elle Decoration and Red. The publisher's other titles include Sugar, Inside Soap, All About Soap, TV Hits! and B.
3. At the time of its UK launch in 2002, Hachette said it was looking to become one of the top three UK consumer publishers within five years. Two-and-a-half years on, this target looks ambitious. "It seems every top-ten publisher out there wants to be in the top three," Ian Tournes, Starcom Mediavest's press director, says. "But I think Hachette will struggle to achieve this, especially now Future Publishing has just bought 38 titles from Highbury House."
4. Psychologies was originally launched in France in 1970. In 2003, Hachette agreed to publish the magazine jointly with its then publisher Finev. Last year, Hachette took a 49 per cent stake in Finev and launched Psychologies in Spain and Italy. There are plans to launch the title in China, Russia and the US.
5. In France, the title boasts a circulation of 300,000. If the UK version can eventually replicate these figures, it will leapfrog titles including its sister magazines Elle and Red and Essential Publishing's Real. Psychologies' main competition will be from the market-leader, Good Housekeeping, which, at the last ABCs, increased its circulation by 4.7 per cent year on year to 435,000.
6. Last November, Hachette appointed the Good Housekeeping publisher Tony Long as its director of sales. He replaced the former Carat press director Tim Kirkman, who lasted only eight months. Long's department has so far failed to overwhelm media buyers. "They've got one of the quietest sales forces," Tournes says. "Hachette needs to be more visible - it's up against the big players, IPC and Emap, who do visibility very well. I know three or four people at Hachette, whereas at IPC I know 20 to 30." This matter may soon be addressed; Long is currently researching how his department can improve its relationship with media agencies.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR...
- If Psychologies is a success, it will give advertisers access to successful, affluent women over 35, with money to spend on life-changing, high-value goods. Hachette claims the beauty, food and automotive sectors are likely to provide Psychologies with its most important advertisers.
- With three women's magazines in its stable - Elle, Red and Psychologies - Hachette has the opportunity to introduce greater incentives for group advertising. How well it achieves this will depend greatly on the dynamism of the company's sales force. If Psychologies is successful in reaching a new audience, the magazine may not lend itself well to group sales.
- Harris maintains that Psychologies will be an excellent environment for advertisers, as readers engaged by the content will be in a better position to take in the advertising messages. She adds that recall tests in France bear this theory out.
- Hachette's existing titles Red and Elle are performing solidly in the ABCs. If Psychologies can replicate its success in France, the company will really begin to establish itself as a major force in women's consumer publishing.
- The over-30s women's magazine sector continues to develop apace, with Conde Nast's recent launch Easy Living joining the likes of Red, Good Housekeeping and Essential Publishing's Real. The sector's future health will depend on whether Psychologies and Easy Living bring new readers to the market, or merely split the existing audience for these titles.