MEDIA: HOME INTEREST - Home sector focus on fashion and fun - Home improvement is in vogue thanks largely to a raft of television programmes which have, in turn, bolstered the magazine market

Ten years ago the home interest magazine market comprised a relatively small number of rather staid titles aimed at those who might wonder idly what to have done to the 'west wing' of their country mansion.

Ten years ago the home interest magazine market comprised a relatively small number of rather staid titles aimed at those who might wonder idly what to have done to the 'west wing' of their country mansion.

Today this sector is one of the most vibrant in the magazine industry with around 28 titles competing for the attention of those driven by the boom in property prices to maxmise the value of their biggest asset.

The change followed the launch in 1989 of NatMags' House Beautiful. The magazine was aimed at the newly do-it-all-friendly mid-market and tapped into the idea that attractive effects could be achieved affordably by anyone. It was a theme also taken up by a raft of home interest programmes on TV that have also helped drive the magazine market. The magazines that followed House Beautiful into the sector have been flavoured slightly differently - Feng Shui for Modern Living for the trend conscious, Living for urban professionals - but they have all had the same mid-market ethos.

The mania that they, together with the TV shows, have created is such that the home furnishing and decoration industry has been able to get away with mimicking the fashion industry - launching two collections a year and claiming to use 'top' designers for wallpapers and fabric.

The plan from Your Home to launch a spin off, Your Kitchen and Bathroom, is evidence that the sector is still expanding, although the most recent ABCs present a mixed picture. The sector overall fell slightly (1.5 per cent) with some titles recording drops up to 27.5 per cent year on year.

It seems the growth has come to a stop and stability looks likely before the sector slims down.

One of those which may be threatened is IPC's Homes & Ideas (down 32.6 per cent in the latest figures). To reverse this, the publisher has brought in Sharon Parsons, formerly editor of EMAP's Top Sante to take over.

Parsons will be undertaking what those in this area would probably call a full makeover of the title.

The news that IPC's Ideal Home magazine is once more the most popular magazine in the sector should provide its stable mate with encouragement as Ideal Home has returned to the slot following a significant redesign.

The title has increased 14 per cent year-on-year as a result of the changes.

Meanwhile House Beautiful, which has fallen 18 per cent in the same period, is in the process of updating its appeal with an easier and less text-heavy format.


Jo Morrell

Position: Publisher

Circulation: 255,058

Publisher: IPC

'The idea of the relaunch was to take it back to being a pure homes magazine - it had spent a couple of years with a lifestyle element too.

'Our readership is middle England John Lewis woman. She is fairly settled in her third or fourth home and is looking to invest something in it rather than to make quick money.

'The magazine is now in three clearly defined sections - decorating, real home - which gives you the snoop value, seeing what people have done in real life for how much. The third is the consumer element.

'Both editorial and marketing work closely with PR agencies - they get a lot of ideas that way and have to stay 'in the know'.


Libby Norman

Positon: Editor

Circulation: 210,034

Publisher: NatMags 'The title has evolved quite a lot in the last year since I have been editor. We have increased the number of pages given to makeovers, how-to type features and tip boxes.

'We have become a little less copy heavy and easier to negotiate with more emphasis on the pictures. We also have lifestyle sections covering entertaining and gardening. Readers use it for information and inspiration.

'We have a strong property and finance section which discusses issues like cowboy builders and burglars. We are trying to celebrate the home.

When we launched we made a vow that there would be no Georgian rectories or Oast Houses. We wanted homes that people could relate to.'


Sue Rose

Position: Editor

Circulation: 172, 565

Publisher: NatMags 'Your Home is aimed at the active home owner - the woman whose home is her hobby.

'It is a relatively new niche sparked by the huge rise in popularity of TV shows like Changing Rooms. People are realising they do not have to rely on professionals.

'The magazine covers a large cross section of people - from Sun to Daily Mail readers. The feel of the magazine is very young and enthusiastic and it has an active voice.

'We also have a lot of merchandise. We research very hard to find the best value stuff out there.

'It is not a DIY magazine - it's very inspirational - it's about translating the look you see into reality.'


Julie Savill

Position: Editor

Circulation: 145,723

Publisher: BBC Worldwide

'Our typical reader is in her thirties and proud of her home but not house proud - she is into how it looks but not hung up on net curtains and dusting.

'Our readers reflect a trend with people increasingly seeing themselves as time pressured and wanting a magazine that delivers effective style solutions without too much navel gazing. We have things like a comprehensive guide to carpets, in terms of kid-proof carpets and pet-proof carpets.

'The boom in the sector started on the back of the TV programmes but the magazine market is bigger than that now. We depend on a good close relationship with PROs for product information and all the celebrities with which we deal.'

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