Media: Focus on food in Sainsbury's Mag

Are customer magazines just glorified product catalogues? This is certainly a snobbery many of these titles suffer, but Sainsbury's Magazine considers itself to be different.

According to last year's National Readership Survey, it is the UK's widest-read paid-for women's monthly magazine, with more than four million readers. This month, it became the first food magazine in the UK to launch a handbag-sized version in an attempt to make it easier for shoppers to get product advice and recipe inspiration while walking through the supermarket aisles. For consumer PROs looking to increase product sales, this makes it an increasingly useful proposition.

There is an important caveat. The magazine will only write about products that are sold in Sainsbury's stores. But with a huge range of FMCG brands available, this hardly narrows the field. It also covers travel, restaurants, health and beauty in its lifestyle features. The latest edition includes an article on running, 50 slimming tips and a piece on how to tell the truth kindly.

The editor Helena Lang says the title is the only customer magazine that is 100 per cent bought and paid for and believes this gives it 'the equivalent of newsstand values', with glossy high quality images and a more subtle approach to selling products.

'Of course we consider Sainsbury's in every word and page, but we are more prepared to put the direct marketing on hold than other customer magazines,' she says.

After a year at the helm, Lang has tried to make the magazine appeal to a younger audience with quick meal ideas and fewer fussy recipes aimed at experienced cooks.

'I want to lose the grown-up, serious mantle,' she says.

The 'What's in Store' section can be fertile ground for PROs. Wild Card's senior account manager Hannah Kent says she often works with the journalists on 'The Producers', which is in this section. 'This is great for brands such as our clients Rodda's Cornish Clotted Cream and Woodlands Dairy,' she says.

Meanwhile Cirkle's account manager Lois McCloud secured coverage in the recent edition for The Blackcurrant Foundation. She sent the journalists blackcurrants and they created a recipe using them, as well as covering the nutritional benefits. She says the 'What's in Season' section is another good target, but PROs need to make sure their product is wholesome with good ingredients. 'They are interested in fresh seasonal produce,' she says.

Food, says Brighter Group's account executive Lucy Newman, is the best way into the title. 'For the August edition, we have successfully sold in von Essen's Thornbury Castle, which has its own vineyard and restaurant,' she says.

A major drawback for the social media savvy is the title's lack of a website. Kent also warns of the long lead times - three months. But if PROs can play by the rules, they can reap the benefits.

QUICK FACTS

Circulation 335,515 (ABCs July-Dec 2009)

Publisher Seven Squared

Deadlines Three months in advance

Awards Won the PPA's Customer Magazine of the year award in 2009

Contact theeditor@sevensquared.co.uk

A MINUTE WITH ... HELENA LANG, EDITOR, SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE

- Who reads your magazine?

The magazine is firmly targeted at busy modern women. I think all good magazines have a target reader in mind, so ours is a women in her early forties who loves to cook. Of course other readers are welcomed in. We have many male readers, for example.

- What do you want from PR professionals?

We're looking for something new, exciting and good value. Really extravagant things or poor quality gimmicks are not right for our readers. We're looking for tried and tested products - we have the same values as Sainsbury's stores.

- What are your pet PR peeves?

My major gripes are quite obvious ones. Unsolicited stuff that is way off target for our market; or letters addressed to someone who left the title ten years ago. It's basically when PROs haven't done their homework.

- How big is your team?

We have an editorial staff of 16 as well as lots of contributing writers such as Anna Magee on health.

- How and when should PROs contact you?

Contacting us by email is best and we work three months in advance. We are currently putting together the September issue, which is out in August.

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