NEWS ANALYSIS: Influx of women’s magazines set to reshape glossy market - Niche titles will dominate the fragmenting women’s sector. By Colin Grimshaw

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.

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

rates.’



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

readership.



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

targeting.’



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.



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