Rivals split over Bliss taking 'Glamour' route

Publishers and editors of teenage magazines were this week divided in their response to Emap’s relaunch of Bliss in a smaller A5 format.

One accused Emap of being "obsessed" with Glamour’s success while another said it would not rule out a similar strategy in the future.

Bliss’s £2m revamp, as it bids to seize market leadership from Sugar, is said to be its biggest since the Emap monthly launched in 1995.

It follows the appointment as editor in November of Helen Johnstone, who was lured from Cosmopolitan, where she was deputy editor.

The April issue has doubled its pagination and increased its celebrity, fashion and health and beauty content. Bliss is also looking to recruit someone for the newly created role of celebrity editor to boost the number of exclusives.

Johnstone said: "A lot of teenage magazines have not raised their game as much as they could have done. I’m very confident the size will take off – it is a fantastic idea and a great innovation in our market. We are not going to be so glamorous that it’s intimidating, it is just going to be cute and glossy," she added.

Bliss reported sales of 255,653 and a fall of nearly 15 per cent in the latest ABCs, second only to Sugar, which dropped 9 per cent to 385,165.

However, Vivien Cotterill, managing director of Attic Futura, which publishes Sugar, raised doubts about the A5 format in the teen sector and suggested it could become lost among its bigger rivals on the news-stands.

"We would never consider doing it for Sugar," she told Press Gazette. "It is not the size that counts but the quality of the product." Although B magazine in Australia has switched to A5, Cotterill said there was no question of relaunching the UK edition.

"Why does Heat sell nearly 400,000, Now sell over 550,000 and Cosmo sell 460,000? Size is not relevant. People get obsessed with the fact that Glamour launched as A5 and sells over 430,000 when it also has fantastic marketing and great content."

Sharon Christal, editor of Mizz, said IPC had conducted research into the smaller format but results had shown that many 10 to 14 year olds assumed they were getting less on each page.

"It is something we have considered and Bliss is the first to break the mould, but teenagers aren’t fools. It is a great gimmick for the market but Bliss should get the editorial right.

"Teenagers are a fickle bunch – they’ll love it and they’ll dig it but for how long? That’s really what Bliss needs to think about."

By Ruth Addicott

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