Personal finance gets crowded

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In this decade-long stock market boom, personal finance titles are reaching out to individual investors as never before.

The category has sparked a proliferation of publications, including Bloomberg Personal Finance, Family Money, Individual Investor, SmartMoney, Worth and Your Money.

The books that sparked the category, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, launched in 1947, and Money, which started in 1972, are revising their approach.

Money and Kiplinger's recently introduced redesigns. For Money, the change has attracted new advertisers, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus, Eddie Bauer and Universal Studios.

"Kiplinger's and Money were it in terms of personal finance for a very long time," says Eric McClure, media director at Oasis Advertising, New York. "The category took off around 1994 . . . It's brought a lot of new consumers into the category wanting as much information as possible about what to do with their investing and retirement needs."

A LIGHTER APPROACH

Personal finance magazines, says Steven Swartz, president-CEO and editor in chief of SmartMoney, are attracting upscale, well-educated consumers and they, unlike their parents, seem to appreciate a lighter approach to financial matters.

Mr. Swartz points to the growing circulation of SmartMoney, a joint venture of Hearst Magazines and Dow Jones & Co. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, last year it jumped 5.2% for the second half of '99 to 764,086 from the second half of '98.

Time Inc.'s Money remains the leader in the category, with 1,929,347 in circulation for the first half of '99, representing a 1.3% gain over the same period in '98. Kiplinger's broke the 1 million mark and is close behind Money at 1,068,556 circulation for the second half of '99. The number reflects a 3.8% increase over the same period in '98.

`MONEY' LEADS

Money is at the head of the pack for ad pages, as well, with 1,391.40, a 7.1% increase over 1998, according to Publishers Information Bureau. SmartMoney saw a 4.5% increase in ad pages to 1,274 for 1999; Kiplinger's, on the other hand, dropped 8.7% to 824.45 ad pages in '99.

"Everyone has the potential to do well, now," says Mr. McClure. "But, I wonder whether consumers will feel the need for so much information when the market turns down. The magazines that have established themselves as trustworthy and dispensers of reputable information, they'll be needed more than ever when the boom times go bust."

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