Last week's news that IPC was to relaunch its monthly glossy Essentials gave a clear indication of the pressure on women's magazines to keep up with an increasingly sophisticated and diverse readership.
Essentials' July issue is to be redesigned and go compact, akin to Conde Nast's Glamour. The magazine is also adjusting its target readership from 'over-30s' to aim at women in their late 20s to mid-30s. The move comes in response to a 14 per cent circulation decline year-on-year for the second half of 2004.
Rival glossy Eve, which PRWeek publisher Haymarket bought from BBC Worldwide in January, is also unveiling a redesign in July that is currently under wraps.
The past five years have seen a segmentation of the women's market, explains Storm Communications director Amanda Williams. 'The 30-plus age group is where we have seen more launches than any other,' she says, also citing specialist food titles such as Delicious, and new weeklies such as Closer.
Women are loyal magazine buyers, but are also attracted by new launches and want to keep up with the latest trends, says Wild Card PR director Lindsay Stewart. 'Essentials is updating to maintain its position and give itself a facelift, and there is nothing wrong with that,' she says.
Channels have become more fragmented, explains Williams: 'You cannot reach 500,000 readers with one title anymore. You can only reach 200,000, but there are more titles. This means PROs have to work harder. It means cultivating more contacts, dealing with a wider media audience and making sure you shout very loudly within that audience for your clients.'
The thirty-something age group encompasses a broadening range of aspirations, argues Red deputy editor Victoria Harper, so it is hard to target. 'You cannot make the assumptions you might have done in the past.
'A group of 19-year-olds are pretty much all going to be in education, whereas our readers might be retraining, or they might have left a high-flying job.' The big challenge for PROs, says Harper, is bridging those divides.
Editor: Julie Barton-Breck
How is the new Essentials different?
Essentials is the second national women's monthly in handbag format after Glamour, which targets a younger audience. We also unashamedly target surburban women and will cover affordable style and achievable features.
How will the changes affect PROs?
Fashion, beauty and home content has increased by 30 editorial pages targeted at a slightly younger audience, so PROs should note that.
Explain your sections We've redeveloped the colour-coded sections to make it easier to navigate - life, fashion, beauty, living solutions, health and essentials to go.
How have readers and coverage changed?
Women in their late 20s to mid-30s want to know how to have friends to dinner with no fuss, how to get a promotion at work or eat healthily - emotional, practical issues.
What scope is there for exclusives?
It depends on the product - but we are open to ideas.
Deputy editor: Victoria Harper
How has the magazine changed?
We launched Red for a new 'middle youth' market seven years ago but the profile of the middle youth woman has changed since then so the editorial content has had to keep up with her. There has been an increase in the number of single women and women staying single for longer. Now we would run a feature on differing lifestyles of women who do and don't have children, or on thirty-something dating.
Define your readers
They are over 30. They might or might not be married and have children. It is more about their attitude - of not defining themselves as married or a mother, but as an independent woman, so they are quite difficult to market to.
What do you want from PROs?
A well-thought-out idea with knowledge of the magazine is much better than a cold call on something that is of no interest to readers.
Editor: Terry Tavner
Who makes up your market?
Intelligent, busy 30 to 45-year-old women juggling job, man, family - and holding it all together.
How are you different from Red and Essentials?
She provides more to read than other glossies. Exclusives are important. Fashion and beauty are designed for 'real women' offering real advice, realistic prices and real expertise. Up until now, Essentials has looked more mass-market and weekly in style than most monthly titles.
In beauty there's a new three-page section from July: Refresh - on anti-ageing; Relax - on spa treatments; and Revive - for reader makeovers.
We were the first women's magazine to produce a Scottish edition in March 2005 with its own features.
How do you decide on exclusives?
Individually. Editorial integrity always comes first. Health, beauty, travel, home and food would be likely areas for consideration.