Thursday, April 24, 2014

Old Ladies' Journal Sent to the Home

The 131-year-old “Seven Sister” title Ladies' Home Journal was consigned today to the magazine industry’s version of the old folks’ home – “special interest publication.”

Meredith announced it will discontinue publishing the 3.2-million-circulation magazine as a monthly and transfer its subscribers to other Meredith titles.

This promo was still on hours after the announcement.
LHJ will travel the same path as some other venerable titles whose audiences became a bit too venerable for advertisers’ tastes – such as Life, U.S. News & World Report, and Country Home: The LHJ brand will appear in print only on newsstand-oriented special-interest publications, often referred to as bookazines because of their lack of advertising, high prices, and focus on a single theme.

Meredith was mum on the future of the magazine's web site, which was still promoting a cheap subscription offer hours after the magazine's demise was announced.

The magazine “has been challenged from an advertising perspective, in particular, primarily due to its higher-than-normal, if you will, median age, which takes it out of a number of the buys,” Stephen M. Lacy, chairman and CEO, said during a conference call today, according to a transcript published by SeekingAlpha. (In the inimitable, no-BS words of The Ad Contrarian: “Marketers, it seems, would rather pander fruitlessly to young people than make real money selling things to old people.”)

“So the objective here and the strategy here is to continue to make the brand available to the individual consumer who has been loyal to Ladies' Home Journal by moving it to a newsstand-only publication,” Lacy added.

That makes sense, considering the title's continued strength at retail: An Association of Audited Media Report showed average newsstand sales of 131,212 per issue in the second half of last year, up 4% over 2012 despite continued shrinkage of newsstand venues.

The transition “significantly eliminates any advertising dependency and a lot of the costs that go along with creating that business,” Lacy said. “It allows us to take those resources and focus them on our very robust parenthood category, where we absolutely lead with the Parents brand and related brands: American Baby, FamilyFun, Family Circle, in the home category with Better Homes and Gardens and all those related activities.”

It’s sort of like starving gramma so you can feed the babies.

The injection of nearly 3 million subscribers transitioned from LHJ will also create a windfall for other Meredith titles. They will be spared from some of the usual low-ball pricing, gimmicks, and direct-mail campaigns that consumer publications so often need to maintain their high circulation levels.

But it's not good news for everyone, of course. More than 100 jobs are being eliminated at the magazine, which spent north of $9 million annually on Periodicals mail, plus additional for letter mail, according to Postcom. Dead Tree Edition estimates the magazine was using well over 6,000 tons of coated paper annually.

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