MEDIA YOUNG TEEN GIRLS’ MAGAZINES: Following the ’baby glossy’ boom - As girls mature quicker, a style of titles, known as the ’baby glossies’ has been successful in offering lifestyle and pop coverage for young tee

Magazines reflect the world around them, and for the young women’s sector, this means an increasing maturity at an early age. Five years ago magazines for girls in the ten- to 15-year-old age bracket were dowdy, with low production values and a slightly mawkish tone. Today they look and feel the same as magazines for the mid- to late-teens.

Magazines reflect the world around them, and for the young women’s

sector, this means an increasing maturity at an early age. Five years

ago magazines for girls in the ten- to 15-year-old age bracket were

dowdy, with low production values and a slightly mawkish tone. Today

they look and feel the same as magazines for the mid- to late-teens.

Mark Bowling, a media manager at media agency BMP OMD, says: ’The teen

market has simply become a lot more realistic. The magazines have had to

catch up because teenage girls have become a lot more aware of what is

going on in real life - photo-love will not work anymore.’

Although the tone is gentler, the subject matter involves a similar mix

of relationships, entertainment and lifestyle features designed purely

for a younger reader.

The change reflects the increased autonomy, confidence and spending

power of young girls. This has been sufficient to propel magazines such

as Sugar to a sales peak of around half a million copies - more than

Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan. The growth in this niche in recent years

is second only to that achieved in the men’s sector by magazines such as

FHM and has been, to some extent, at the expense of the pop magazines

like Live’n’Kicking and Top of the Pops which have shown decline in

sales recently.

’The teen magazine market can be broken down into lifestyle and pop

music. The funny thing is that although pop music is everywhere at the

moment, the pop magazines are not doing so well, with their readers

turning to the lifestyle magazines. The ABCs are down - for example, Top

of the Pops was down 15 per cent year-on-year, whereas Mizz was up 23

per cent year-on-year,’ says Bowling.

Across the whole teenage market intense competition has led to a frenzy

of cover mounts, with magazines directing a lot of promotional resources

towards finding the right gift. Bowling points out that one impact of

this seems to be the erosion of brand loyalty, with readers more

inclined to pick the magazine that has the best cover mount.

Overall, the market is still moving towards greater maturity at an early

age. With 15-year-olds reading the ’baby glossy’ Sugar, the 12-year-olds

have their own niche developing, with magazines such as Mizz. As yet,

this younger market has yet to produce a perfect-bound, Cosmo lookalike,

but with the market buoyant and the social change continuing, the move

towards a full-blown baby glossy monthly can not be far away.



Position: Editor

ABC: 160,000

Frequency: fortnightly

’The core of our market is young girls between ten and 15. They are nice

girls, they have not been kissed, their mums are their best friends, and

they still enjoy school. They are just coming into puberty which is a

big worry, we get lots of letters about it. We also get lots of

questions from readers who say they are in love with someone they have

not spoken to.

’It is a very interactive magazine - apart from our huge postbag we also

feature readers a lot in the magazine. We use them as models, doing

make-overs or fashion pieces on them. We are not force-feeding them

anything - our readers are very much consumers already. I would not put

anything in the magazine that I was not comfortable with but the point

is they already know about brands, what trainers to buy and things like


They have money, so there is no point pretending they are not already


’This market did not really exist five years ago. The only other

magazine in this young girls’ lifestyle market is Shout which we have

overtaken as market leader now. All the other magazines are about pop.

We think we reinvented this market when we relaunched two-and-a-half

years ago. We made it much more glossy and brought in higher production

values. It was similar before but much more old-fashioned’.



Position: Editor

ABC: 230,190

Frequency: Monthly

’The main thing about our readers is that they are the first in their

group of friends to pick up on something new. Our reader is cool, around

14 to 15, she is adventurous, she has attitude and does not want to be

spoon-fed anything.

The magazine features a mix of entertainment, features on fashion and

beauty, adventure and real-life. There is the same mix in a lot of these

magazines, but we tackle it from a slightly different angle. The quality

of the design and photography is much more sophisticated in J17. We do

more quirky and original things, a bit like a baby style magazine.

’We are cool but it is important to have an emotional content too. At

that age you are finding out about yourself, about your friends and boys

- it is very intense, they are often looking for emotional guidance. The

magazine provides this by being a cool, elder sister. We do music as

part of the entertainment and we feature all the boy bands but we also

do the indie side of things. The magazine was a weekly but was

relaunched as a monthly a couple of years ago when the market was

changing, with teenagers demanding a more glossy product. In terms of

the advertising, the teenage pound has never been more powerful. They

are incredibly brand aware and media savvy - they are the MTV




Position: Editorial director

ABC: 430,217

Frequency: Monthly

’Sugar launched five years ago against Mizz and Just Seventeen (as it

was then). At that time there was no perfect-bound monthly for

teenagers. Sugar readers come from all walks of life and the average age

is just over 14 years old. She lives at home, she might have a part-time

job, she works hard at school and has her dreams. She wants to do

something with her life, but has all the usual insecurities about boys

and relationships.

She really prizes her friends. We give them fun and information and are

like a best friend, giving advice.

’There is gossip and celebrity stuff. The magazine works because it is

very well written, it is funny and well-balanced with features tailored

to our readers’ tastes. For example, everything we show is


Our readers also like the fact that we get the celebrities first. Our

advertising ranges from cosmetics, to clothes, to pop music, but we are

responsible about what we accept.

’Our readers are brand aware and they like shopping. The reason Sugar

works so well is that it is just a good magazine, and stimulates the

reader on every level. We have a cover mount on this month’s issue and

every magazine in the teenage market is doing this aggressively. I think

it is here to stay.’

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