‘A no-brainer for advertisers’

New shopping magazines tap emerging 'acquisition mind-set' to create a new vehicle for marketers

The holiday season has come to a close and most cash-conscious consumers are all shopped out. But for many fashionistas, young and not-so-young, every season is shopping season, which is why hopes are high for a new crop of shopping magazines and guides hitting major markets by storm.

Japan has been in the game for more than a decade with close to 70 indigenous shopping titles, including market leaders Very, Cutie and Sassy, but it wasn’t until last year, when Condé Nast’s Lucky was named magazine of the year by Advertising Age, that the Western publishing world perked up to the trend.

Now, in addition to new shopping titles coming out of the U.S., France and the U.K., Toronto-based competitors St. Joseph Media and Rogers Media Publishing are jumping aboard the Lucky train, to cash in on the success of the newest magazine category.

Coming this August, in time for the coveted fall season, the two new Canadian titles will land on newsstands across the country, offering advertisers a unique and lucrative new environment to promote their products and brands.

‘I’m thrilled that these books are coming in – that we have true contenders with reader interest…and it’s a no brainer for advertisers because it gives them just the kind of accountability they’re looking for – sales,’ says Sunni Boot, president and CEO of Toronto-based ZenithOptimedia. ‘It also makes the fashion offering richer: you’ll read a Flare or Fashion in a relaxing, enjoyable way, and the shopping magazine gives you the best and most useful information that’s fast and timely.’

While the shopping mag is an obvious buy for such beauty clients as L’Oréal, Boot says even her tech clients could benefit from the lifestyle content, which makes up 25% of the editorial in the yet-to-be-named Rogers magazine, targeting women 18 to 35. ‘If you think about it, Palm Pilots, digital cameras, cell technology, Blackberries, that’s this group, and there are terrific tie-ins to lifestyle features.’

But the truly unique opportunity the shopping mag offers to advertisers is the mentality of the reader – the woman who opens the magazine with the intention to spend money – the woman who identifies herself as a shopper. ‘It’s an acquisition mind-set,’ says Rogers’ publisher Lise Ravary. ‘It’s not aspirational like the traditional fashion magazine; it’s about buying.’ Which is reflective of what’s going on in the retail environment, where knockoffs are coming off the line before the designer’s stuff makes it off the runway.

‘The shopping magazine shortens the distance between the creative aspect of fashion and the ability to buy…. After Sept. 11, the aspirational rubber band lost a lot of its elasticity,’ says Ravary in explaining the demand for more ‘news you can use.’

According to the PMB 2003 readership study, there are 7,456,000 women 18 to 49 in Canada. Forty-five percent of them really enjoy shopping for clothes; 41% keep abreast of changes in style & fashion; 62% say confidence is greatly enhanced when they know they look their best; 30% don’t feel complete without a fragrance; and 57% say a personal care routine is not a chore.

Women also control 80% of all consumer dollars spent in North America, according to a report called ‘The 80% Minority,’ conducted by Thomas Yaccato Group, 2003.

But what’s particularly key to the woman targeted by these mags is that ‘she’s busy, she wants to stay up to date, she loves to mix it up – she’ll pair a Gap T-shirt with a Dolce & Gabbana jacket – but she needs someone to edit the experience for her, to tell her ‘here’s the great book, the great buy, the great idea for a dinner party, here’s how you put this and that together,” says Ceri Marsh, editor of St. Joseph’s Fashion shops, which targets the broader 18-to-49 group.

In addition to targeting a style-conscious reader looking to spend, advertisers will have the opportunity to offer readers exclusive promotions, merchandise extensions and in-store events. Lucky, for example, struck a deal with the Gap to create a bag that was exclusively redeemable to its readers.

‘That’s the kind of stuff, we’re looking to do,’ says Marc Blondeau, president, Editions Rogers Media, the Montreal-based division responsible for publishing the new Rogers title. ‘We want to make sure that at the end of the day we’re responding to our readers’ needs and moving merchandise at the same time.’

Likewise, a coupon-style page and stickers or detachable bookmarks have been designed to enhance each of the magazines’ user-friendly approaches – the idea being that the reader can mark her favourite items as she flips through the book and then clip and pocket what she wants.

Editorial and advertising must, however, remain separate in order to establish and maintain the magazines’ credibility, according to both Marsh and Ravary. But, there is still an expectation among advertisers for third party/editorial endorsement.

‘I would be bothered if my products weren’t being featured editorially,’ says Boot. ‘I respect that engaging and legitimate editorial will hook the reader and in the end I’m buying that reader, but if I’m running ads and they keep featuring my competition, I would expect to at least have the consideration…. You get editorial mention in the fashion books.’

But while gaining increased mileage for your ad dollar has its obvious advantages to advertisers, smaller-scale advertisers may fear being left out in the cold (despite both magazines’ commitment to maintaining a church-and-state approach to ads and editorial).

‘My concern as an advertiser is that those who spend more have the clout to gain greater editorial coverage,’ says Michelle Beaulieu, VP group media director, Starcom Worldwide, and media planner for Procter & Gamble. ‘I don’t want to feel held hostage to spend more, but I also don’t want to be left out – for the magazines, that’s a great business model.’

With advertisers clearly excited, the only question that remains is whether these new shopping mags will cannibalize the traditional fashion book.

‘The shopping magazines are strong line extensions,’ responds Boot. ‘Spending the extra four or five dollars on another magazine is not going to make or break your fashionista – she’ll pick up both.’

So then, will advertisers increase their budgets to include this new category?

Not likely, says Beaulieu. ‘But they may spend differently. They may move some money from outdoor or other lifestyle magazines that aren’t hitting their target as directly.’

Boot agrees. ‘Strengthening the magazine offering should add new money to the category, but just because they build it, doesn’t mean budgets will increase. There will have to be a redistribution of ad dollars, which I think you’ll see,’ she says.

Canada’s two leading fashion magazines, Flare and Fashion, are published by Rogers and St. Joseph, respectively.

The thinking behind launching these shopping brands is to enhance the offering.

‘We’re not in the business of shooting ourselves in the foot,’ says Sara Bull, associate publisher, Fashion shops, Fashion 18 and Fashion.

Quite the contrary, in fact. With a complete offering of women’s books, both St. Joseph and Rogers can provide advertisers with greater value for their ad dollar, amortizing costs among two or three titles instead of just one.

Furthermore, Boot says the Canadian magazine offering is underdeveloped compared to the U.S. ‘Our per capita spending is much less and we can probably afford to expand the allocation.’ That is, given the right opportunity.

The Toronto Star cashes in on shopping

The shopping book trend has officially reached Canada, with both Rogers Media Publishing and St. Joseph Media planning new books for August, but the Toronto Star beat them to it in early December with its own shopping section, targeted to women 25 to 49.

In both an effort to gain a larger female readership and to capitalize on the growing consumption of shopping news, the new Saturday section, called simply ‘Shopping,’ promises to help consumers plan their outings, find the best deals and keep them up to date on the latest home, food and fashion trends.

‘Originally we were going for a style section, but shopping is so much more democratic,’ says founding editor Mo Gannon, who was also the brainchild behind the launch of such Star sections as Brand New Planet for kids and more recently, the young adult-skewed I.D. ‘Shopping’s primarily a section for people who love to shop and we celebrate that with the perfect finds. It’s also for people who don’t love to shop, but need help sorting out all the choices.’

Features in the roughly 10-page section include shopping with an expert, the $150 makeover, comparing the super-expensive to the knock-offs, the latest in fashion and décor trends and gifts for all occasions.

Shopping offers advertisers ‘front-page banner ads, lots of colour and enhanced editorial content,’ says Jeff Fry, group advertising director, Toronto Star.

As it stands, the new gambit serves as a second part to the Life section, but its goal is to branch out on its own like Wheels, Travel, Condo Living and New in Homes, which are seen as the pillars of the Saturday niche sections.

As for its editorial positioning, ‘it’s more middle of the road than high end. It includes couture and bargain basement stuff, but the most important thing is that it’s not aspirational,’ says Gannon.

Advertisers include Harry Rosen, Henry’s Camera, Royal Lighting, Decorium, UpCountry, BMO and the Olde Hide House, to name a few.

But while ad demand has remained high, Fry says the section is looking to attract some brand advertising, ‘like Kraft Foods, McCain Foods…. We want the agencies, which we haven’t gotten so far.’

A full-page colour ad runs at roughly $25,000, or $5.20 per line.

Fashion shops: The Ultimate Buy It Guide

A brand extension of St. Joseph Media’s Fashion, Fashion shops, ‘The Ultimate Buy It Guide,’ promises to deliver style and beauty trends tailored with relevant, usable local editorial for fashion-forward Canadian women 18 to 49.

Slated to be launched in August, the annual, perfect-bound glossy will sport a clean, modern, fun look. Content includes such features as how to put together the ultimate makeup bag, where to get the best knockoffs, how high-end looks translate into wearable styles, putting together mixable items and sending one reader out with $500 and a professional stylist.

‘It’s really about making the merchandise the hero,’ says editor Ceri Marsh.

With a paid circulation, distribution for the annual book – which Marsh says may become more frequent, ‘depending on how it goes’ – will include Fashion magazine’s subscription and newsstand base (146,027; ABC; June 30, 2003). The single-copy price will be $4.50.

National rates range from $17,915 for a four-colour page to $33,130 for a DPS.

Advertisers include many of the same clients seen in Fashion and Fashion 18, including Browns, Holt Renfrew, Estée Lauder and Procter & Gamble, confirms associate publisher Sara Bull.

Editions Rogers Media pub: largest paid circ launch in 20 years

Rogers Publishing’s new and unnamed shopping magazine includes a French and English edition. Both will be published out of Montreal.

With a target for a paid circulation of 150,000 in English and 80,000 in French, the two perfect bound glossies will be distributed to newsstands and by subscription, which will be partially driven by a cross promotion with some of the company’s other women’s books.

‘This is our largest paid circulation launch in over 20 years,’ says publisher Lise Ravary.

There is also likely to be a large crossover of advertisers among Flare, Chatelaine and the new shopping title, but so far no signed deals have been reported. ‘All I can say is that we have sound commitments from a number of key clients,’ says Marc Blondeau, Editions Rogers Media.

Both editions will be published three times in 2004 – between August and Christmas – eight times in 2005, and 10 times in 2006.

The new pub, which is not a brand extension for the publishing house, promotes itself as the official shopping handbook for fashion-conscious Canadian women 18 to 35 (with spillover expectations), who love to ‘mix it up.’ It also promises to boost the Canadian retail industry.

With editor-in-chief Marie-Jose Desmarais at the helm, the magazine will offer a selection of fashion, beauty and lifestyle-related products, hand-picked by a national team of editors.

Stickers will be included for quick reference, as well as promotional pages, but information on particular features was not available at press time.

The one-time rate for a single four-colour page in the English edition is $10,995 and $6,900 for the French edition.

The single copy price will be $3.95.