After lying dormant for years, the women’s glossy magazine market
is about to erupt into activity, with at least seven launches due to hit
the shelves this year.
Project Denise was the first to reveal herself, as PS. Now Bare has been
exposed, as have Aura and Nova - but Urma, Florence and a revamped Frank
are still under wraps and delayed until the autumn/winter.
Most of the newcomers are targeting women in their 30s and 40s, seeking
to exploit a gap that Red was supposed to fill, had the title not ended
up being read by 29-year-olds.
Finding a single concept that is attractive to a common audience in this
age group is likely to prove difficult and probably accounts for the
delays in launching. Teens and women in their 20s share common
experiences, interests and lifestyles - but a 35-year-old could be a
Bridget Jones-style singleton or married with teenagers.
The rumour is that some of the concepts haven’t been researched well
and, given the level of investment and potential rewards, publishers are
keen to get it right.
It is unlikely that all these new magazines will survive, for the simple
reason that there is not enough ad revenue to go around. The consensus
is that the titles that concentrate on finding a new niche are most
likely to succeed.
MediaVest client services director Nigel Conway believes two of the
launches will fail. He is too diplomatic to name them, but a big clue
lies in his belief that large publishers with deeper pockets have a huge
advantage and will be desperate to hang onto market share.
Media buyers are clearly salivating at the prospect of a more
competitive women’s sector. ’With competition from new media, outdoor
and TV, the advertising cake for magazines is not going to grow,’ says
Conway. ’To survive in a fragmenting market, the new titles will have to
fight for ad revenue and established magazines will have to lower their
The greater competition is likely to mean the end of the mass-market
women’s glossy. Conway predicts that the upper end for sales will
eventually be as low as 150,000 to 200,000. IPC and the National
Magazine Company, who have titles selling more than twice this amount,
are likely to disagree.
But such assessments do not bode well for Aura’s guarantee of a 130,000
Mediapolis press director Priscilla Rogan agrees that the highly
targeted titles will succeed. ’Red promised a lot but was hugely
disappointing,’ says Rogan. ’It was just another mass-market magazine
and wasn’t nearly sophisticated enough for the sector it was
Vivien Cotterill, publisher of She, is braced for the fight and also
believes that some of the new titles will struggle to find retail shelf
space. ’We’ve bought up shelf space and will be upweighting content and
using cover mounts,’ she warns.