The traditional teen market has proved unsustainable as adolescent girls move into the online world and older-looking titles, according to the managing director of the latest publisher to abandon the sector.
Jessica Burley, managing director of Natmags – which closed CosmoGirl! last week – said that the internet and a shift in teenagers’ perception of themselves had made the adolescent market impossible to operate in.
‘Perhaps having something so overtly targeted at teens isn’t as relevant now as it was five or six years ago,’she said. ‘With huge regret, we have had to concede that the marketplace in that format, targeting girls or girls who wish to be adults, is just not sustainable on an ongoing business basis.”
But Burley refuted the suggestion that teenagers had abandoned magazines altogether. ‘I don’t think they have stopped – I think they have just switched markets,’she said.
Natmags’ digital offshoot from CosmoGirl!, Jellyfish, has been granted a second test phase in which its target age range will jump from 12 to16-year-olds to 18 to 25-year-olds.
Jellyfish was born out of a test project to find new ways to talk to the teen market, and is headed up by CosmoGirl! editor Celia Duncan, who will continue to lead the new phase.Burley said the first phase had been about testing the platform and developing the product. The company found that an older, office-worker audience was best suited to the model.
The newly targeted Jellyfish will be ‘pure entertainment”, she said. ‘This is just taking the level of surprise and interest that celebrity weeklies create in their pictures, taking that on and saying you can watch it live.”
Natmags will seek to find alternative roles for the 12 editorial and commercial staff who had worked on CosmoGirl!
The closure of the magazine signals the end of Natmags’ ambitions in the teen market, a genre that all the major publishers have been abandoning. Emap closed Smash Hits! and Sneak and sold Bliss to Panini. The BBC recently closed It’s Hot! but has retained Top of the Pops magazine.
Hachette owns the other girls’ mothly, Sugar.