Condé Nast's launch of "Lucky" and, more recently, its launch of "Cargo" - two titles focused on shopping - are inspiring others to buy into the trend.Despite the slowly recovering economy, Americans remain the ultimate consumers as the huge early success of a new media category, the pure shopping magazine - dubbed "magalogs" by some - can attest. Condé Nast's launch of Lucky three years ago not only proved that a magazine completely devoted to showcasing products can find a large audience, it also triggered a change in the product pages of other more traditional lifestyle outlets. "A lot of magazines, even though they don't say they're shopping focused, are really following the trend," says Lauren Swartz, manager of media relations with M. Booth & Associates. "The way they set up their pages is very similar, and they're really trying to make their products more accessible." Last month, Condé Nast followed up Lucky with Cargo, a magazine solely devoted to telling men about the latest gadgets, accessories, fashion trends, and grooming products. In the me-too world of media, other publishers are quickly preparing their own shopping titles, including Hearst's planned rollout of Shop Etc. later this year. A time-pressed audience While some argue that these magazines blur the line between editorial outlet and catalog, in many ways that misses the point. Cargo and Lucky are light on copy not as a concession to the ad community, but rather as a recognition of the time constraints of their audience. "People are reading magazines these days when they can spare five minutes during lunch or at the gym," explains Patrick Simpson, VP with the consumer products division of Edelman Worldwide. "They don't have time these days to sit down and read a book. And these are magazines that can be read in five-minute stretches." There is also no doubt that the arrival of Lucky and Cargo has been a boon to the consumer products PR industry. "They definitely challenge you to have new news or a new spin on your product, but they're not as hard to get into as you might think," says Laura Pesin, VP with Euro RSCG Magnet, adding, "Every single feature is going to include products." Cargo executive editor Lisa Arbetter says her staff, which prefers to be contacted either via e-mail or postal mail, welcomes unsolicited products and/or artwork. The key, she suggests, is timing. "We work on a two-month lead time, but we can get some items in on shorter notice," she says. "The products we are most interested in are those that will be hitting shelves at about the same time we hit the stands." Gaining popularity In an era when the media are looking to increasingly segment their audience by age and income to better please advertisers, Lucky and Cargo also stand out by having surprisingly broad appeal. "Our demographic is men ages 25 to 45, but we're really going after any guy who is in the market to buy something," explains Arbetter. "We include a wide range of prices in all our categories in order to give the reader options and to ensure he's able to find something at a price he's comfortable with." Indeed, one key to the early popularity of Lucky and Cargo is the focus on affordability. "A lot of magazines that are out there are aspirational in the products that they feature," says Simpson. "What these editors are able to do is make heroes out of everyday products. They make consumers feel good about themselves, and in that I think they've really captured the sentiment of our time." The only problem might be that shopping magazines showcase so many products, packing up to 15 different, say, skin creams into a single page. "The challenge that we're seeing now especially in the shopping space is you're getting briefer mentions to tell your story," says Simpson. "So you have to be creative about how you present your client's message." But they also go a lot of further toward driving consumers toward a sale - every product is usually accompanied by a URL, an 800 number, or a retail location that's carrying the item. Lucky even takes it one step further by including a page of stickers so that consumers can highlight the products they want as they browse through the pages and then carry the magazine to the store with them when they shop. Pitching... pure shopping titles
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