OUR BEGINNINGS

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To forecast the behavior of consumers, who so often say one thing and then do another, is a tough way to make a living. But that's just what we've been doing at this magazine for the past quarter century.

In this issue, as we commemorate our 25th anniversary, we offer a forecast for the next 25 years. In the opening feature of our package, Editor-at-Large Alison Stein Wellner describes the three key demographic trends that will shape the business landscape through 2025. For a magazine whose enduring mission is to identify trends and provide insight into buying behavior, we thought it fitting to start our package with a look ahead at the consumer marketplace. Says Wellner: “The trends that will influence business agendas of tomorrow are already gaining momentum today.�

American Demographics has been focused on the marketplace of tomorrow since its inception. The idea for the magazine was conceived in the summer of 1977 by Peter Francese. As he tells it, he was on a family vacation on Fenwick Island, Delaware, casting about for a more financially rewarding job that would enable him and his wife to send three children to college. Never did he imagine that the magazine would one day be owned by media conglomerates — such as Dow Jones, and now Primedia — or that it would last as long as it has. “At the time, I was selling demographic data, and it suddenly occurred to me that there was, in fact, an entire industry in need of a magazine,� he says. “I jumped up from the beach, ran inside and wrote a one-page business plan.�

Francese went on to form a corporation in April 1978 — giving birth to American Demographics. Several months later, in January 1979, the first issue debuted. Says Francese: “I was warned that only one magazine in 25 survives its first year, and we would likely be bankrupt by the end of the year.� Nevertheless, he borrowed against his family's house in Ithaca, N.Y., and began to seek investors. The magazine's first office was in a former dormitory at Cornell University that had been condemned. The rent: only $90 a month; they typed their stories on an IBM Selectric, sending the pages out to be typeset. “Despite the challenges, I felt that my only option was to make this venture work, because as I tried to build this magazine, I met people who had just as much passion for the data — and believed in the idea for the magazine — as I did,� says Francese. “Over the years, many of these folks have brought their vision and passion to the pages of American Demographics. It is profoundly gratifying to see the magazine still doing what it set out to do 25 years ago.�

Here's to another 25 years.

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