World: Medium of the Week - Freundin revamps in bid to restore its readership

The women's title is fighting back against the recession, Friedhelm Gieseking writes. Like many women's magazines in Europe, the established titles in Germany - Freundin (published by Burda), Brigitte (Gruner & Jahr), Fur Sie (Jahreszeiten-Verlag) and Journal fur die Frau (Axel Springer) - have had a tough time of it recently because of the economic downturn.

While Freundin's paid-for circulation dropped below 500,000 at the end of 2003, the younger lower-priced bi-weeklies Glamour and Woman managed to grab a substantial share of the market.

But Freundin has bounced back. This spring, the magazine re-launched with a new look. In a straightforward style, the magazine boasts typical women's magazine fare (fashion, beauty, health and well-being) and a more personal approach. "We are talking to women on an equal footing," the title's editor-in-chief, Renate Rosenthal, says.

Freundin's facelift is not designed to appeal to very young women; instead, it focuses on a core target group of 25- to 49-year-old women with disposable income who appreciate the finer things in life.

This commitment to quality goes hand-in-hand with an increase in Freundin's cover price, from 2.05 to 2.20 euros.

Among advertisers seeking quality rather than quantity, the strategy is paying off: Chanel has supported the revamped Freundin from the start.

Media agencies are enthusiastic. Klaus Saalfeld, the media director at MindShare in Frankfurt, says: "My first impression is excellent. The features are more readable and the photography is high quality."

Saalfeld thinks Burda is right to raise its cover price. "It is setting a standard in terms of quality. Studies have shown that women are willing to pay more for a better product," he claims.

Yet Guido Friebel, the media planning group head at ZenithMoremedia in Dusseldorf, is unconvinced as to whether Freun-din's readers will notice the difference. But this is a good sign, he argues, indicating subtle rather than dramatic changes at the magazine. "It shows that they are treating Freundin in a sensible and sensitive way," he says.

Established: 1948

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Paid-for circulation: 465,418 (according to IVW IV/2003)

Price for four-colour full-page ad: 33,390 euros

Cover price: 2.20 euros

Typical advertisers: Lancaster, Vichy, L'Oreal, Chanel, Nivea, Triumph,

Jacob's, Siemens, Volkswagen, Toyota, Peugeot

Rivals: Brigitte, Fur Sie, Journal fur die Frau

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