Analysis: Soutar’s Stylist guns for Grazia market

It would have seemed odd, in some ways, if Mike Soutar hadn’t been planning a women’s version of his weekly national free magazine for men, Shortlist.

Mike Soutar
Mike Soutar

The title has won a host of awards this year and, according to Soutar, is on course to break even at the end of its second financial year next month at a time when mass market general paid-for men’s titles are being abandoned by readers.

Despite the recession, Soutar predicts the magazine will break even by the end of its current financial year in August.

Now the backers behind Shortlist, including French Connection founder Stephen Marks, are throwing their weight behind the launch of Stylist, expected to appear in September or October.

Soutar says his research has identified a gap in the market, “upscale working women” aged 20-40, leaning towards the older end of the bracket, who collectively make-up the “breakthrough generation.”

“There are 4.2m ABC1 women aged 20-40 who have on average 11 years of freedom compared to four 20 years ago,” says Soutar. “They have become a generation who are empowered commercially and personally,” says Soutar.

Soutar believes a free weekly magazine will capture these women in numbers rival magazines and newspaper supplement’s can only dream of, with only Grazia coming close to reaching his desired demographic.

However, some industry sources are sceptical he will deliver such an “upscale” reader. “The problem is how can it guarantee the 400,000 women who pick up his magazine are upscale. I think its market will be more Look than Grazia demographic, younger women who are into fast fashion, top shop style,” says Liam Mullins, head of press at media agency the7stars.

He adds that he thinks the title is a good idea and “very valuable” to advertisers if it can deliver 400,000 women before they get to their desks at 9 in the morning.

Another senior press buyer says Grazia is a very tough target: “When Grazia came out it redefined the weekly market, producing a high quality fashion-led title every week. It carved out a very credible niche for itself and I think it’d be hard for a freebie weekly to gain that cachet.”

They add that the new title might pull it off based on the names that have been attracted to the launch. A lot will ride on the powers of new editor Lisa Smosarski, who it has poached from the editors chair of Bauer Media’s More, where she took the magazine from a tired fortnightly to a glossy weekly during her time.

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