'Organic Beauty' Sees a Niche Others Left

New Title to Focus on Eco-Friendly Personal Care

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It's a relatively rare development in the magazine world these days: the launch of a new title. That's especially true when the debut is in the "green" lifestyle category, which has not fared too well in recent years. But Sovereign/Homestead is standing confidently by its new bimonthly title, Organic Beauty. Publisher Diane Hintz said the publication fills an unmet need in the magazine industry, appealing to affluent and educated women seeking eco-friendly beauty products.

Organic Beauty
Organic Beauty
"This is basically a market without a voice," Ms. Hintz said, citing her own past experience trying to find information about natural and organic beauty products. "You could pick up bits and pieces of info on various websites and magazines, but no one put it all together."

Former New York Times Beauty Editor and Elle Editorial Director Rona Berg leads Organic Beauty as editor in chief. Magazine content will focus on natural and organic hair, skin and body care -- including treatments and products.

Steady growth
Certainly the number of "natural" beauty and personal products has grown steadily in the U.S. in the past five years. In 2008, there were 6,566 new makeup, hair and body products in the category as opposed to just 814 in 2003, according to Mintel International. Sales of such products have grown too, but show signs of slowing down. Mintel reported in March 2008 that sales of natural and organic personal-care products grew 15.2% to reach $465 million in 2007 in natural grocery stores and food, drug and mass merchandisers, but predicted sales would grow only 13.1% in 2008 and 11.8% in 2009.

The recent closures of independent Plenty magazine and National Geographic's Green Guide also give cause for concern about the viability of such a niche print magazine. So too does Rodale's Organic Style, a lifestyle magazine that shuttered in 2005 after only four years. The concept had a second life as a magazine on Organic Bouquet's Organic Style website, but that project was recently placed on hiatus.

"We are currently working on figuring out the next steps for Organic Style magazine," June Lee, its director-marketing wrote in an e-mail. "We tested it as an online magazine and are now considering relaunching it as a content site."

Ms. Hintz is undeterred by the past failures.

"We expect to do extremely well because we truly have no competition. We feel we can establish a dominant presence in a time of recession when most companies will not launch a magazine," she said.

She said the beauty business is growing, and women are increasingly looking for healthful beauty products.

"[Organic Style] was perhaps a little bit ahead of the time," she said. "Also, it was a magazine that was developed to overall organic living ... whereas this magazine is devoted to beauty."

Uphill climb
Nonetheless, a niche title like this likely will face an uphill climb to convince major marketers.

"They're going to have to do some sort of selling job with advertisers," said Brad Adgate, senior VP-research, Horizon Media. "Certainly there are advantages having such a well-defined magazine with editorial content ... but it's going to be how well they're able to distinguish that ... and how they're different from other magazines [in the same category] that haven't done well over the past few years."

But, he added, "if this is launched in this environment and survives, then it can survive anything."

"House" actress Olivia Wilde appears on the cover of the 106-page premier issue, which came out Dec. 30, 2008. Advertisers that bought 18 ad pages include Jane Iredale, SpaRitual, Astara and Golden Earth. Copies sell for $4.99 each in stores all over the U.S., including Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Barnes & Noble. Organic Beauty launched with a rate base of 100,000.

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