Chicken Soup for the Soul in a magazine
In the last few years you may have noticed how the global recession has impacted upon our collective psyche. Whilst the nineties and noughties witnessed a throw-away society and mass consumerism recently a new consciousness has emerged – a ‘make-do-and-mend’ mentality and a return to frugality, dubbed ‘austerity chic’. These phenomena have heralded a new popularity of old skills like sewing on buttons, darning socks and growing your own vegetables.
Media and celebrities have caught onto the trend through programmes like Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘Handmade Britain’ and ‘Homemade Home’ which extol the virtues of domesticity and show viewers how to make items such as decoupage tea lights and clay-baked gift tags. The Duchess of Cambridge is a key exponent of this trend, recycling her hats and outfits and even swapping them with her mum.
It is into this zeitgeist that Bauer launch their new print magazine, ‘LandScape’; tapping explicitly into this ‘austerity chic’ and nostalgia for simpler times.
Launching a print title in the current market is a bold move. ABC results published in February made for fairly grim reading; apart from the increase in circulations of free titles Shortlist and Stylist, the rest of the magazine market suffered a down-turn. Add to this the huge upheavals in the magazine market (consolidation of Hearst and Hachette last year, BBC magazines now in the hands of Immediate Media and IPC re-structuring) and the continuing move of readers to online formats and you start to see the scale of LandScape’s task.
LandScape will sit within the home interest sector alongside titles including Country Living, Homes and Gardens and Country Homes and Interiors. Bauer believe their closest competitor to be Country Living, but as the title straddles cooking, gardening, women’s monthlies and home interest it will be interesting to see where the readers will migrate from and which titles will suffer as a result of its launch.
Editor Sheena Harvey believes LandScape will be “a haven from the pressures of modern living, a chance to slow down and a reminder of the good things in life”. Editorial content will be based around the growing seasons and “celebrate the joy of the garden, simple seasonal kitchen food, traditional British crafts and the wonder of nature and the countryside”.
To emphasise the luxurious and relaxing positioning of LandScape Bauer have invested in heavier printed paper with an evocative use of photos throughout. Currently there are no plans for an online version. Print feels like the right environment for launch, offering the reader a more relaxing read than digital formats, however if early sales reveal a younger reader than anticipated an online edition must surely follow.
LandScape launched on 18th April with a print of 170k and a cover price of £3.90. The launch was supported with a 32 page sampler in the Times distributed in last Saturday’s edition (14th April) and by English heritage who are promoting the magazine to its 1 million plus members. It will also be promoted through the Bauer’s stable of titles where they will drive subscriptions though it will not be cover-mounted. It is set at an accessible price point and will be produced bimonthly to maintain seasonality and the unhurried theme.
Bauer believe it will find its core audience amongst 35+ women with an interest in the countryside and nature. This target audience is a distinct departure from Bauer Media’s traditional area of expertise with titles including Grazia, Heat, FHM and Closer focusing on the younger end of the market. Nevertheless, Bauer do have a history of successful launches; Grazia was the UK’s first quality women’s weekly and demonstrated the publisher’s ability to make a brand successful very quickly.
So, will they carve themselves a niche with this new launch? Well they have certainly tapped into the zeitgeist and with a double dip recession announced last week the age of austerity seems set to continue. The print market needs continual investment in order to survive, evolve and ultimately prosper. Launches are the life blood of a healthy market and a barometer for the industry and so I can only applaud Bauer’s bravery and wish them luck with their new launch.
Lucy Church is press manager at Manning Gottlieb OMD.