Top 5 Monthlies: Giving Women What They Want

By Greer Jonas

As we crunched the numbers for November, we spoke to the publishers of the top three monthly magazines in the mix that had the highest number of ad-page gains. The theme of success was clear: Reach the modern woman who knows what she wants and the advertisers will follow.

Forty-three-year-old Southern Living magazine has 16 million readers (95% of them subscribers), and showed a 21.28 ad-page increase in November ’09 over November ’08. “Southern Living is the magazine for the modern Southern woman,” says publisher Rich Smyth. “She comes to the magazine to affirm her Southerness, knowing that she can get from us what she can’t from any other magazine in America.”

Editor-in-chief Eleanor Griffin brought in new energy and a new look, Smyth says. She introduced new franchises such as “Made by Southern Hands” that play into readers’ love of learning about items that are made in the South. “Mama’s Way or Your Way?” is another popular feature. The spread features two versions of a recipe of an iconic Southern dish like collard greens, one “the way mama made it,” which is not always good for the waistline and requires a lot of time and ingredients, and the other a recipe that is easier on the waistline and takes half the time to make. Southern Living‘s advertisers are reacting to readers’ enthusiasm. "Retail is huge," Smyth tells min, with advertisers such as IKEA, Belk and Dillards department stores all vying for the attention of the affluent, active high-energy female consumer.

At Real Simple, much of the success is due to the redesign efforts of creative director Janet Froelich, which focuses on readers’ values, says publisher Kevin White. Time is the key. Real Simple asks its readers: "What is more important, time or money?" And readers have responded that time is, in fact, more important than money. The brand recognizes that women’s lives are very busy and it helps readers find ways to maximize their time. "Real Simple is a psychographic, not a demographic," says White. "It is not based on age, it is based on the mind-set of the consumer." Chanel, Maybelline, Toyota corporate, Lancome and Garnier are among the top advertisers in Real Simple. (Read more about Real Simple in this week’s min.)

At More, “[our readers are] women in their forties and fifties who have accumulated wealth and experiences," says VP/publisher Brenda Saget Darling. "They are mostly professional women, many entrepreneurs, who love to travel and entertain. They spend money on beauty and fashion and products that enrich their lives.” The More advertiser understands that they will reach consumers who have money and continue to spend it through this recession, Saget says. In fact, she adds, "More has the highest HHI of all women’s titles at over $93,000 (MRI)."  Advertisements for financial services such as Wells Fargo and Prudential and automotive brands such as Cadillac, Lincoln and Toyota populate the magazine.

Below is the top five monthly chart based on the magazines that showed the highest number of ad pages gained in November ’09 over ’08. Of 154 monthlies that we track, 30 have positive percent gains in November and only 10 are up in year to date (January – November) 2009 vs. 2008. See the full November 2009 monthly chart and analysis in min.

Greer Jonas is managing editor of min.