Booming baby magazine sector: a lucrative choice for retailers Mother and baby titles can be a valuable source of revenue for retailers. With around 750,000 new mothers every year there's a continual demand. As a result the sector is well represented with most leading publishers producing a magazine. The titles tend to be bright and glossy, appealing to the health and fashion conscious mothers of today. They focus on parenting from the early stages of pregnancy right through to five years old. Publishing director of Prima Baby Fiona Marcar said: "Parenting magazines have to realise that women want sophisticated glossies that reflect their lifestyle and some of them are now at the premium end of the market." This leaning toward lifestyle means retailers would benefit from positioning them alongside the women's glossies and health publications rather than children's titles. Retailers should also stock a number of the titles to maximise choice and sales. There is not a great deal of reader loyalty' in this sector and consumers will often buy two or more magazines on impulse. Irene Duncan, editor of D C Thomson's Babycare & Pregnancy, said purchasers tend to be guided by what appears on the front cover ­ so attractive cover lines and covers are paramount. Promotions are ongoing in this sector, mostly with covermounts and in-house promotions. There are covermounts on virtually every issue ­ and because everyone is doing it, it is unlikely there will be any major change in the policy. Publisher of the women's group at VW Publications, Dan Bromage, responsible for New Baby, Pregnancy and Baby's Best Buys, said: "We will continue with our policy of covermounts and cross promotions as well as our strong covers and editorial." Bromage adds that what makes New Baby special is that it's directed to the first nine months of a baby's life when mothers are looking for more in-depth specialist information. Pregnancy also has bold and eye-catching covers to attract readers. "And our plain talking, direct approach using specialists such as midwives and doctors is also a strong selling point," said Bromage. Tracey Engel, publisher of IPC's Practical Parenting and Expecting Our Baby, believes the overall market is healthy despite a declining birth-rate. "Children are being born to people who are older with higher disposable incomes, and this is reflected in the parenting titles. "Both our magazines are perfect bound, keeping up with market demand, where paper quality and the look of the titles are also important." This glossy image also gives the magazines a broad appeal to advertisers. Engel said:"New magazines have come on to the market, many at the premium end, so advertisers who are not necessarily associated with baby products are becoming more interested." This appeal is also due to the fact that the sector is not just about pregnancy. Engel explains: "Expecting Our Baby covers from birth up to the end of the first year, while Practical Parenting has a unique positioning as it deals with birth to five years old. Practical Parenting is a strong brand as it ties in with a TV programme and a range of books from Harper & Collins, which deal with subjects from birth to age five." Engel is also looking to expand on the areas where the magazines are displayed. She said: "We are working closely with retailers such as Safeway, Sainsbury and Asda as well as independents, all of whom are investing more in the children's sectors, so perhaps the magazines could also be placed there as well as at the normal displays." Babycare & Pregnancyeditor said it targeted pregnant mums and those with children up to two or three years old. Duncan added: "We target first-time mums, which is when they need the most help. "The marketplace is not loyal to any one title. People look at a cover and see something that interests them and they buy the magazine." Babycare & Pregnancy is promoted on a regular basis and covermounts are part of this package. "The product must be right for the target audience, it is part of a package and a service that we offer pregnant women and new mums," said Duncan. Duncan is delighted that the title is not seen as only Scottish'. "Our sales are high south of the border. And we have many readers from all over, who call for advice; what is more all our readers get a response." Emap Esprit's Mother & Baby, launched more than 40 years ago, is one of the oldest magazines around and covers pregnancy to beyond two years of age. Emap's second title Pregnancy & Birth covers the nine months of pregnancy. Editor Valery McConnell said: "Today's pregnant woman's needs differ from her mum's. There is an increasing demand for information on work, benefits, rights, lifestyle as well as looking good. Pregnancy & Birth is a lifestyle magazine for pregnant women." Again, covermounts are used by Emap. McConnell said: "This is a covermount market and we tend to offer added value' gifts. For example, catalogues work very well with our pregnancy title." National Magazine Company's Good House-keeping Having a Baby, is designed to cover pregnancy, birth and toddlers up to age three. Publisher Neil McQuillan says Having a Baby is unique in that it works closely with the National Childbirth Trust, as well has having the resources of the Good Houskeeping Institute behind it. "Our audience is very vocal, letting us know what they want, they contact us by phone, letter, e-mail, in fact by virtually every means ­ and we respond to our readers," said McQuillan. The magazine has a new look from August when it changes to be published on a monthly basis. The covers a planned to be designed to reflect the readership and carry coverlines that "really relate to the contents". It will also continue to be heavily covermounted. NatMags would like to see its parenting titles displayed alongside women's magazines. "They will sell," said McQuillan. "We've put a lot of thought into making our title stand out on the shelves and are giving readers what they want ­ a glossy lifestyle magazine. There is no way that women today will accept anything else." Prima Baby, from Gruner + Jahr, has "a very authoritative editorial which is presented in a warm, exciting and accessible way," said publishing director Fiona Marcar. "People are using these lifestyle magazines in preparation for a major change in their lives. As a result car manufacturers, paint companies and all manner of advertisers are interested. "There is no real loyalty in this sector, but we want to be one of those chosen information sources. We have repeat readers, of course, but our cover lines and mounts also attract the floating' readers. "The covermount war will continue and certainly the covermount may attract someone to buy a magazine ­ but we believe that once they have read us they will stay with us" said Marcar. "Covermounts are an integral part of the service offered to readers. We always try to have something that is value for money. It has to be useful, worthwhile and have a high perceived value. We have to covermount ­ everyone is doing it." Prima Baby has its annual Prima Baby Show in London which this year takes place from August 26-28 at Olympia. G+J also intend to launch a show in Birmingham next year. The company's director of events Stephanie Grice said: "The show was launched with the weight of G+J behind it, and was supported by investment and the philosophy of the magazine. It had to be right and to reinforce Prima baby's position in the market. We believe that it does just that." {{CTN }}