MEDIA: PARENTING MAGAZINES - Baby titles for today’s material girls/The number of women delaying motherhood until their late-20s or 30s has expanded the focus of the parenting market with a new emphasis on gloss

With the number of births dropping slightly every year the fact that the parenting sector remains so buoyant is something of an anomaly.

With the number of births dropping slightly every year the fact

that the parenting sector remains so buoyant is something of an


But despite the slow decline in the birth rate - now down to 715,000

annually - the number and frequency of titles continues to rise.

The contradiction is explained by the fact that, although more people

are choosing to remain childless, those who do have children are having

them slightly later in life (the average age of motherhood has risen

from 24 to 29 in the last 20 years). Hence, today’s parents have more

money to spend on their offspring and are therefore more attractive to


This trend has seen the number of titles in the market double in the

last six years to 15, and the growth is continuing. Last week saw New

Baby, with a reported budget of pounds 3 million, hit the newsstands,

and there are also plans for some of those already on the market in a

bi-monthly format, such as Prima Baby, to go monthly.

Another reason why publishers are targeting the parenting sector is that

it is an easy one to enter. As people are always having babies there are

an estimated 60,000 new customers looking at the shelves for the first

time every month - hence a good name, cover design and promotional

cover-mount is enough to give any publisher a fair chance of


Against this background it is a little surprising that the two market

leaders - Emap’s Mother and Baby and IPC’s Practical Parenting which

have both been around for the best part of 50 years - have maintained

their dominance for so long.

New Baby actually replaces another magazine from the same publisher,

Baby whose circulation had slipped to around 24,000. The new title hopes

to create a niche by focusing on mothers with babies less than nine

months old. The title also follows a current trend within the sector -

that for an increasingly ’glossy’ approach. While the market leaders

concentrate on delivering established parenting information, newer

titles are much slicker, deliberately looking more like women’s

lifestyle magazines.

The emphasis on creating a glossy package is to target the trendy

’working mums’ at the top of the market, and has probably also been

triggered in part by high profile celebrity mothers such as Madonna and

Posh Spice.

Whereas the market leaders have retained their positions by providing

down-to-earth information and allowing readers to get their glossy fix

from separate titles.


Nikki Brown

Circulation: 83,000 (July - Dec 1999)

Frequency: Weekly

Position: Publisher

Publisher: Emap

’The success of Mother and Baby is that it caters for everyone, it is

all-inclusive, unlike some of the new, glossier magazines. It is not

really a magazine for the high-flying career mother, but we are proud of

the service we are providing for all mothers - a lifeline to help them

when their baby is screaming in the middle of the night. The other

titles are more superficial.

’Not all mothers want to be the career mothers those titles seem to be

aimed at. We have just published a survey which found that a lot of

mothers would prefer to be at home with their children. We are a warm

and friendly magazine for women from the time they become pregnant to

when their child is three.

’Our readers use it as their bible, we give advice in a very reassuring

way. We are also trying to get ’dad’ readers on board. We have a Dadzone

on our website and, we think a high proportion of partners do read the

magazine. We have faced lots of competition over the years and we now

have non-traditional competitors. Tesco, for example, has a Baby


This is providing other ways to access information for young


’Our strategy is to develop into a multi-channel brand so that mothers

can access information any way they want.’


Liz Murphy

Circulation: Not available

Frequency: Bi-monthly

Position: Acting editor

Publisher: National Magazine Company

’The magazine has been going for about two years. It was originally

launched as She’s Having a Baby, but was brought under Good Housekeeping

late last year. It is aimed at women who are probably in their late-20s,

or early-30s, who have been brought up on glossy magazines.

’It is for women who are excited about being pregnant but who also want

to retain a sense of themselves. So we have practical advice about

having a baby but also cover the emotional needs of the mother during

the time between conception and when the baby is three years old.

’We have features about how the mother-to-be can make the most of

herself and her time, so it is very much the stuff that our readers are

used to reading in glossy magazines. It recognises that women at that

age are used to an independent life and having something for themselves

- not selfishly, just reasonably. It is the emotional side of it and the

fact that it is glossy that makes it unique.

’Also, the fact that the products are all tested by the Good

Housekeeping Institute makes it unique too. When you have a baby you

want something of the credibility of the GHI. We also have features

about dads - but these are generally written for women.’


Dan Bromage

Circulation: Not available

Frequency: Monthly

Editor: Editor and publisher

Publisher: WV Publications

’We will focus on the first nine months of a baby’s life which makes us

unique - the strapline is ’your guide to the first nine months’ - no

other magazine has that exclusive focus. We offer 132 pages about care

for this time. This is when babies are at their most difficult and when

mothers are most worried.

’It is a new market that no one has tapped before, much like

two-and-a-half years ago when we launched Pregnancy - no one had seen

that gap in the market either.

’The market is big - there are 715,000 births in the UK every year and

the average family size is 1.9, so that is 400,000 first time babies

every year. However, we are not exclusively targeting first time mothers

- sometimes there is a large gap and everything changes in the market

within a few years. At this time readers need a lot of specific

information about things like health, development, feeding, and specific

information about baby products. Each family on average spends pounds

2,500 on a baby per year.

’New Baby is all aimed at mothers - dads get one page. The average age

of our readers is 29, we have a distribution of 120,000 and we are

hoping it will settle down at around 40,000.’

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