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Meet the Press: Beauty Editors Speak Out

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: October 7, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

In their own words, consumer magazine editors such as Felicia Milewicz, beauty director of Condé Nast’s Glamour, consider their publications “beauty Bibles,” in that the product reviews and trend reports printed therein help shape consumer buying habits around the world. Although the phrase may seem excessive, with expanded online content and global readership, such beauty magazines have become an integral factor in reaching brands’ customers. So knowing how these editors think—and how brands can increase their chances of appearing on magazine pages—may very well steer a business toward profit or pitfall.

According to Milewicz, this success is based on consumer trust in a brand, product or publication. “The marketer, similar to those in the publishing world, should always be honest,” she says. “Once that trust is broken, it’s finished. The reader/consumer will not forgive you if you slip up, so you’d better deliver.”

Liesa Goins, beauty editor of Women’s Health, published by Rodale Press, agrees. “That appreciation of candor, along with a strong dose of skepticism, makes consumers suspect of anything too slick or over-hyped,” she says, pointing to Olay and Dove’s ad campaigns as examples of honest realism. “Our readers can tell we’re not just pushing products to sell ads.”

But in consumer publications, advertising dollars can affect editorial space and magazine profitability just as much as subscriber sales, so editor and brand relationships go hand-in-hand. They need each other to survive.

Impact on the Industry

Magazine spending, according to the Periodical & Book Association of America, has stayed afloat throughout inflation in recent years, with new markets developing across the globe (“Worldwide, Magazines are Holding Up,” Jan 30, 2008). The International Federation of the Periodical Press (IFPP) attributes this growth to the newly emerging middle class in countries such as India and China. In China alone, the IFPP says ad spending on magazines more than doubled between 2001 and 2006, from $145 million to $375 million, and it is forecast to reach $515 million in 2008. The IFPP also reports that ad spending on U.S. magazines increased from $21.5 billion in 2001 to $25.2 billion in 2006, which is forecast to hit $28.3 billion this year. Worldwide, the PBAA believes the pace of such ad spending could grow by 3.4% a year through 2010.