THE BEST MAGAZINES: TEEN-AGE GIRLS, ADVERTISERS BOTH HEED 'SEVENTEEN': AD PAGES UP 7%, NEWSSTAND SALES POST STUNNING 30% INCREASE

By Published on .

Most Popular
In the world of teen-age girls, advice is most welcomed when it's not from Mom and Dad.

Yet there's one 53-year-old a growing number of teens have turned to: Seventeen, which was launched in 1944 and enjoyed a successful 1996.

The K-III Magazine Corp. title offers advertisers access to a growing demographic that spends $48.1 billion per year and is projected to be 27 million strong by 2010.

STRONG GROWTH

In 1996, according to Publishers' Information Bureau figures, Seventeen's ad pages hit 1,219, up 7% over the previous year. Total average paid circulation for the monthly hit 2,442,090 through Dec. 31, a 12.5% increase over the year-before period. The title also had a 30% increase in newsstand sales last year and has boosted its rate base twice since mid 1996 to its current 2.2 million.

For its powerful display of market strength and business performance, Seventeen has been named one of Advertising Age's Best Magazines for 1996.

"They're topical, they're relevant and they know their consumer," says Gloria Appel, exec VP at Grey Advertising, New York. "It is the primo magazine in [its] category."

Making the title's circulation gains more impressive is that since 1991, Seventeen has boosted circulation by about 700,000. And a yearly subscription costs $16.95, 13% higher than in 1992.

BETTER GRAPHICS

Janice Grossman, president of advertising and marketing for K-III's consumer magazine group, says these new readers were attracted to a spiffed-up design with better graphics and more pictures, expanded editorial that addresses college concerns, and an increased focus on "real" teens.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be mentioned on several episodes of "Beverly Hills, 90210" either.

Also helping out: timing.

"This market is really hot right now," admits Publisher Lori Burgess, noting that a number of big publishing companies are rumored to be eyeing entry into the teen scene. She also points out that U.S. Census Bureau projections indicate that when the young female market peaks in 2010, it will be bigger than the baby boom's peak.

The continued and concerted effort to communicate with its target readership-young women between 12 and 24 years old, with a median age of 18-results in staggering monthly feedback from its readers. According to Ms. Burgess, Seventeen receives in excess of 6,000 letters per month.

"We research every issue with our readers, so we are continually in touch with what they want in the magazine," she adds.

Ms. Grossman describes the magazine as "fun, funny and nurturing. .*.*. The magic of Seventeen is that it's more in-depth than it's been in the past, without being condescending."

Michael McCadden, VP-marketing for The Gap, says both Seventeen and Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's YM are strong books for his products, but that they differ psychographically.

MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD READER

"The Seventeen reader, I think, is a bit closer to center," says Mr. McCadden. "YM is a little edgier."

The idea that Seventeen serves a closer-to-center target seems to support its strong performance. Other industry and agency observers familiar with the titles made similar comparisons be-tween the two

By the end of last year, Sassy checked out, leaving Seventeen and YM to cover the market. Teen, on the other hand, remains a more general-interest title and not as focused on beauty, fashion and cosmetics.

With Seventeen addressing the multitudes and YM a continued strong player (its circulation grew 1.8% last year to more than 1.9 million), the teen market is stronger than ever.

Ms. Appel highlights Seventeen's "relevancy" to its target market and its relationship with its readers as the biggest draws of the magazine.

For client Procter & Gamble Co.'s cosmetics lines, the amount of editorial devoted to beauty is also essential.

"They are a very important resource to us, and our partnership with them through the years has never wavered," says Ms. Appel.

NEAR TOP OF LIST

Though she could not divulge a dollar figure or number of ad pages placed in the magazine in 1996, she maintains Seventeen will always be near the top of her list.

Other advertisers appear to feel the same way. Last year Maybelline, a unit of L'Oreal's Cosmair, did roughly $2 million in business with Seventeen, and Benckiser Group's Coty did roughly 69 pages of advertising with the monthly, according to Ms. Burgess.

"Beauty and fashion rule at Seventeen," quips Ms. Burgess.

While the bulk of the title's pages come from the fashion/

beauty category, the magazine last year got Dean Witter, Discover & Co.'s Discover Card and Campbell Soup Co. In 1997, Ford Motor Co. will make its first appearance.

Also helping promote the magazine is Seventeen's marketing department, with 22 people on board.

"We do all our own events, in roughly 110 markets a year, ranging from campuses to malls to drug stores," says Ms. Burgess. "It's another way to access this market."

The coming year is shaping up to be better than last year, according to Ms. Burgess.

AD PAGES UP 9%

Ad pages in the first quarter of the title's current fiscal year, or February through April, are already about 9% ahead of the same period last year.

Though the magazine has never sold premiums with the Seventeen name on it, executives say they are now investigating such opportunities. Though subscriptions are the big component at the monthly, three issues-March, August and September-will carry special themes-the prom, back to school, and college and fashion, respectively-and be sold on the newsstand at a higher cover price of $3.50.

SOLID GROWTH

"From a business perspective," says Ms. Burgess, "we really want to manage growth."

With such a huge marketing department and an even bigger audience, it would seem that Seventeen could create virtually whatever it wanted for advertisers.

"Seventeen continues to be the leader in the teen category," says Roberta Garfinkle, senior VP-director of print media at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. "More and more advertisers are saying we need to hit people younger, and get them familiar with our brands. Our buying habits came from our parents'

In this article: