WORLD: MEDIUM OF THE WEEK - BusinessWeek takes on digital rivals with redesign

BusinessWeek revamps its look and plans more local titles, Pippa Considine says.

BusinessWeek has a new look. It's the magazine's first redesign in 20 years and it comes in time for its 75th anniversary next year.

According to BusinessWeek's president and publisher, William Kupper, it's an obvious move for the title: "When you're a leading brand you have to constantly adapt to the ever-changing needs of your customers. And with economies picking up finally around the world it is a great time to launch the redesign."

BusinessWeek's global circulation at 1.2 million - with readership around 5.2 million - is, Kupper says, "at an all-time high". Despite the increasing availability of 24-hour TV and internet business news, the title, launched back in 1929, has stood the test of time. There are now three core English language editions covering North America, Asia and Europe. "It represents six magazines in one," Kupper says. "It gives you news, analysis, points of view; for so many people it's a must-read." It's also been well placed as a weekly to add analysis to stories. "It's been a bit of a management coach over the years,"Kupper says.

But he is well aware of his electronic competition. Although BusinessWeek can offer a different take on news, with more in-depth coverage than real-time TV programming, he has to be wary of the attention span of his upmarket readership. Recent focus groups with subscribers stressed the frenetic lifestyle of the title's business executive readers. "The new design is easier to navigate, more readable, with compelling use of photographs," he says. The type size has even been enlarged for greater legibility.

The brand has also kept pace with technological changes. Its award-winning website, BusinessWeek Online, was launched in 1996. Two years ago it introduced BusinessWeek TV - a weekly US syndicated show on personal finance, which may translate to European TV in the future. Other extensions of the brand include conferences and another US-based initiative, BusinessWeek workshops for private investors, which are now being tested in Asia.

As a global business publication, Kupper is adamant that BusinessWeek's competitors are chiefly The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Despite the large majority of its readership coming from North America, the magazine's editorial policy is to maintain a distinctly international perspective, which centres on taking a "triangular" view of breaking news - gauging reactions from its editors in Asia, Europe and the US before putting pen to paper.

So what about Kupper's global plans for the brand's future. "I do like the level that we're at. But is there an opportunity to be 1.5 million? This magazine is dedicated to the upper executive level around the world, we're not a mass magazine."

But there are certain opportunities for growth. As well as brand extensions, there's a call for local language editions. BusinessWeek already has a Polish and Indonesian edition and the BusinessWeek China monthly has been a great success. The next step is the launch of an Indian edition scheduled for the beginning of 2004.

Circulation: 1.2 million

Brand extensions: TV show, global conferences, investor workshops

Ownership: McGraw-Hill Group

Languages: Four

Ad rates: $134,780 full-colour page worldwide

Number of markets: 130


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