Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Upscale parenting magazines discover eager advertisers

Upscale parenting magazines discover eager advertisers
By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — The magazine business is having an upscale baby boom. Two new arrivals are parenting magazines Cookie and Wondertime.

The parenting magazine niche is looking attractive because industry veterans Child, Parents and Parenting grew ad pages 20% from 2002 to 2005, while ad pages industrywide were up just 8% for that period, according to the Magazine Publishers of America.

The latest entries are aiming beyond the soccer mom to the yoga mommy — aiming for parents who not only want to be smart about child-development trends, but also are willing to pay a premium for their kids to look smart with the latest fashions and gear.

The upscale kids market is expected to reach nearly $30 billion from sales of apparel, furnishings and accessories, according to research firm Packaged Facts.

That spending power is attracting advertisers, many new to this magazine category, from marketers of cars and watches to kiddie apparel, including such brands as Gucci and Burberry.

"Advertisers want to reach parents who are more style- and destination-conscious," says Eva Dillon, publisher of Cookie, which beat its advertising goals for the premiere issue, which came out in November, by 20%.

Among brands helping it drive past the goal was Cadillac with an ad for its pricey SRX crossover SUV. And the GM luxury brand returned to run the ad again in Cookie's second issue (one of six planned for 2006). The copy: "Not all housewives are desperate."

"(The SRX) is the closest thing we have to the modern-day station wagon," says Kevin Smith, Cadillac spokesman. "A station wagon still has some level of stigma. It's not cool to drive a station wagon. It's cooler to drive an SUV or an SUV-like vehicle."

The newcomers are not the only titles with new views on parenting magazines. The category vets have been revamping their publications in the past several years.

Category leader Parenting started to research in 2002 what women wanted in parenting magazines, says Jeff Wellington, vice president and group publisher. The answer, he says, was content that felt more like Vogue and Elle, magazines they read before having children.

"It's not just the mommy category," Wellington says. "It's the woman's category that happens to have children, too. That's why a lot of new magazines are coming in." Parenting will try to defend its strong ad page growth, up 34% since 2002.

Family marketer Walt Disney wants in on the action, too, and recently launched Wondertime, with a focus on learning. The first issue, on sale now, includes an article on teaching your child how to climb a tree. The magazine, now selling ads for its second issue, surpassed its ad goal for the first.

Glenn Rosenbloom, senior vice president and group publisher, says the parenting category is "vibrant."

"We've gotten a great response from advertisers across the board," he says. "Marketers realize that parents, when they become parents, are entering a whole new life stage, and there are an awful lot of products and services they need."

Is there enough advertising to go around? Maybe not, says Bob Mate, executive vice president and publishing director of Meredith, which produces the magazines Child and Parents.

"Just because someone comes out with a new magazine doesn't mean a manufacturer is going to increase their budget," he says. "The pie may not be growing as fast as the number of titles out there."

No comments: