'Over 40s shunned by women's magazines'

US publisher Myrna Blyth

Women in their 40s and 50s have been abandoned by magazines which celebrate youth and fertility rather than experience, according to US publisher Myrna Blyth.

The lifestyle of women in this age group, which is a rapidly growing demographic across the world, has changed dramatically in the past few decades, but most magazines on the market alienate the Baby Boomer generation, Blyth told delegates at the Worldwide Magazine Marketplace conference.

"This is an age group that remembers the way life used to be for women in their 40s and 50s and realises that life is so much better today," she said.

Blyth is the editorial director of Meredith Corporation’s New York magazines and four years ago she launched More, the title for women aged 40 to 60. More has doubled in circulation and revenues since its launch and now sells 850,000 copies a month.

Publishing ventures which have tried to cater for this market in the UK, such as Eve Pollard’s Aura, and Chic, have been unsuccessful, as have previous magazines in the US, such as Mirabella and Lears.

Part of the reason More has succeeded, said Blyth, is because it is celebratory. It doesn’t feature models who are younger than 40. "Part of what we wanted to say is that it is not about looking young, it is about looking good, because that is how women of this age feel. It is not about wanting to be younger, it is about wanting to enjoy life at this stage, and it is a very positive stage."

More published pictures of Jamie Lee Curtis, the 43-year-old Hollywood actress, without any make-up, hair-styling or air-brushing. The story and pictures were picked up by media all over the world.

Blyth said that women were no longer valued only for youth and beauty. "And that is one of the great differences today. For the first time, women are valued for experience – really the first time in the history of the world."

She denied that women stayed loyal to magazines they had read when they were younger. "Marketing used to say ‘get a consumer when she is young because she’ll stay loyal to her brand’. Well, we always say this is the most divorced generation in history. They can change their husband – they can change their brand."

The magazine covers health, beauty, relationships and travel. Blyth said: "One thing that is so interesting about this age group in the States – it’s the largest demographic and it is the richest demographic. That has never really happened before. This is a rare combination."

By Mary Stevens

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