Agencies can’t wait for the launch of magazines for grown-up women

A never-ending diet of celebrity gossip is all very well, but women in their 30s don’t really care. Time the sector saw a little innovation, says Ian Tournes

We are an ageing population. Nothing new there. However, you could be forgiven for missing this fact if you were using the women’s magazine market as a barometer.

Over the past ten years or so, there have been quite a few launches aimed at women. Most of these have catered to the desire for celebrity gossip. And if you look at these titles’ target readerships, they are all women in their mid-20s to early 30s.

I don’t find this particularly surprising – I can’t see many women in their mid-30s or beyond being interested in Britney Spears’ sweat patches or Cameron Diaz’s spots! So what exactly are women in this market being offered to read?

The weekly market is propped up by Closer and New!, both of which have posted period-on-period circulation increases of 20 per cent or more. This has caused circulation in the category as a whole to rise by two per cent – but strip these two titles out and you will see a sector that is in decline.

The monthly market is in slightly better shape, with steady increases in the latest set of figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABCs), but as a category it has lacked any real innovation and hasn’t seen any major launches since Glamour arrived on our shores four years ago.

So is this a market in need of something new? The answer from publishing houses would seem to be a resounding “yes”. The weekly market seems to be lacking a title that actually talks to women in their mid-30s – perhaps taking some of the more interesting celebrity news and combining it with some real life, giving the reader something she can relate to. The monthly market could also do with a title aimed between the younger and older ends of the market. Something that relates to women’s lives, tackling anything from fashion to homes.

With the National Magazine Company having produced no significant launches since Cosmopolitan in 1972, and Condé Nast always on the look-out for new ideas targeting the upper end of society, it looks like we are in for a couple of big launches in the near future. Marketing spend is always an issue for new launches, but this is unlikely to be a problem for either of these publishers. And with Richard Desmond on the sidelines, surrounded by rumours of men’s and women’s weekly launches, the sector could be in for a shake-up.

Agencies always treat launches with a little bit of caution. The main worry is that they are merely going to take readers away from magazines already in the market. However, given the fact that the number of women aged between 30 and 59 is predicted to increase by six per cent over the next ten years, it is less of a worry in this particular case. With healthy marketing spends, these launches should be welcomed with open arms, by readers and advertisers alike.

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