SPOTLIGHT ON: WOMEN’S MAGAZINES - Young titles may be lucrative but don’t forget older women

BBC Magazines and Emap are right to target women over 30. By Alasdair Reid.

BBC Magazines and Emap are right to target women over 30. By

Alasdair Reid.

Advertisers are obsessed with young women for one simple reason - they

are incredibly promiscuous. The women, that is. Older women may have

more taste, discretion and spending power but they fail the promiscuity


We’re not talking about sex, though that comes into it at some


We’re talking brand loyalty. What’s the point of advertising to women

who’ve made their minds up? That’s why there are relatively few

magazines for women over 30. There may be a gap in the market but, as

the marketing cliche goes, is there a market in the gap?

BBC Magazines, which is planning a title aimed at older women, and Emap

Elan, which is lining up a glamorous glossy aimed at women over 30

(Campaign, last week), are about to find out.

But this isn’t the only big magazine idea around at present - there are

also new notions on how to tackle the promiscuous end of the market. Two

publishers - Wagadon and a new, unnamed, company - both aim to take

successful young men’s titles and replicate them for women. Wagadon’s

will be a female Arena; the other will be a girl’s Loaded.

The theory is that young women like the laddishness of young men’s

titles, so much that they buy the magazines themselves. They’ll like it

even better if it’s actually aimed at them, won’t they?

We shall see. Will it be easier to launch into the crowded young market

than the more spacious over-30s sector? How much room for growth is

there around the margins of the women’s magazine market? Could we see

two new markets opening up?

Some agencies have reservations about the older sector. They point out

that the circulations of the titles like She, Good Housekeeping and

Woman’s Journal are in decline. Some planners are even predicting the

demise of Woman’s Journal, which recorded a 14 per cent year-on-year

slump in its ABC figure for July to December 1996. Publishers of the

planned titles could argue this is an opportunity rather than a problem.

And they could add that they are aiming at a slightly younger audience

than Woman’s Journal, whose readership has a median age of 50.

Nigel Conway, the media planning director of the Media Centre, says that

success in the young women’s sector can bring huge rewards. ’It is a

cluttered market but advertisers will embrace any new brands and ones

that come from new stables are of particular interest,’ he says.

’Advertisers will seek to use new magazines in new ways or may take the

opportunity of a launch to try to secure sites.’

Conway is dubious about older age group titles but, in this case, he

thinks they’ve got it right. ’If they were going after the Woman’s

Journal market, I would have said that was a mistake. But they’re not.

Emap Elan is going for women just over 30. There is a yawning gap

between titles like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, which have a median

age of 29, and titles like Woman’s Journal. Emap will probably hit the

nail on the head.’

Neil Jones, a director of TMD Carat, agrees about the Emap title - but

he’s much more sceptical about prospects for titles entering the young

women’s market. ’I just don’t think it’s true that the Loaded tone of

voice doesn’t exist in the women’s market. Take a look at Company, Just

Seventeen, Sugar and Bliss. It’s there already.

’Outside the really big brands, the monthly market has been fragmenting

and there are opportunities opening up for titles that can get

circulations above 200,000. Older women may represent a real opportunity

- the market is not very cluttered. There may be obvious reasons for

that but it’s nonsense to ignore the over-40s. It may be harder to get

them to switch brands but that’s no excuse for not bothering about



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