'Women's market in good enough shape for launch'

Customer magazines publisher River Publishing is making the break into the consumer market with the launch of a new women’s monthly to rival Psychologies.

Shape magazine, out on 2 April with an estimated circulation of 70,000, is a women’s glossy, targeting a more mature readership, and offering a mix of in-depth articles on emotional and physical well-being, not dissimilar to Hachette Filipacchi‘s Psychologies successful formula.

The first launch into the women’s monthly market since Psychologies, Shape is edited by former features director of Elle, Annabel Meggeson.

The success of Psychologies has shown there is a desire for ‘a more intelligent, in-depth read”, she said.

‘Psychologies has been remarkable,’she added. ‘You look through it and there are virtually no pictures in it, but it has strong circulation.”

Since its launch in 2005, Psychologies has shown consecutive circulation increases, its latest of 21.5 per cent year on year, pushing it to 140,162.

Shape will also have in-depth features, but Meggeson said it was aiming to be a ‘pretty and clever’combination of Psychologies and a weekend supplement, with more emphasis on photography.

‘We’re acknowledging an older, more intelligent, self-aware reader who cares about making herself better and communicating better with people around her, but who also loves a great beauty feature, wants to look nice, and wants to be entertained by a magazine that looks fantastic with gorgeous pictures but also offers thought via longer, more intelligent reads,’she said.

Shape is currently published in 23 countries, and was last published in the UK in 2004 by Dennis as a dedicated health and fitness title in line with the American edition. River Publishing wanted the support of being a global brand even though it is now offering very different content.

Meggeson said she believed it is the right time to launch a new women’s title, as current offerings seem tired and dry, and a lot of the women’s titles offer ‘homogenised’copy. ‘What I’ve tried to do is bring on board lots of different writers with different voices and allow those voices to come through in the magazine,’she said.

Meggeson said that although the success of weekly titles such as Grazia, which launched in 2005, had affected monthlies’ sales and made publishers cautious of launching, the novelty is beginning to wear off. By offering something different, Shape could be a success, she hoped.

‘While the decline in monthlies has been attributed to the rise of the weeklies, maybe it’s a reflection that people are after something new and we can offer that to them,’she said.

‘I think women of a certain age are looking to get back into a more indulgent monthly read.”

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