Women’s media is contracting; just four of the titanic “seven sisters” magazines of the 20th century are still in print, and the once robust online ecosystem is thinning out. The remaining players are attempting to shore up their position, and at least one is betting on the middle of the road.
Already rich in women’s magazines, in 2017 Meredith completed a Koch-backed takeover of Time Inc. They’ve since sold off Time and Fortune, taken Money online-only, and they’re still trying to offload Sports Illustrated as well as, reportedly, a bunch of local broadcast stations they still own. An article at AdWeek explains their strategy: They’re streamlining in order to bet big on “her.”
As was the goal from the start, Meredith will now double down on its portfolio of mainly lifestyle titles and work to reach that audience—or “her,” as Catherine Levene, Meredith’s new chief digital officer, referred to it.
“Our goal here is to understand her needs, inspire her and entertain her and help her with everyday decisions and drive her to action,” Levene told Adweek ahead of the presentation.
Who is she?????
A brief survey of the Meredith website suggests that this audience is maybe best described as the Joanna Gaines audience, or the Girl, Wash Your Face audience—a non-Brooklynite, interested in aspirational lifestyle content, who may be somewhat evangelical adjacent but not necessarily. Brands range from AllRecipes and People to Real Simple, so firmly mainstream but inoffensive for people who fall to one side or the other. (I personally love Parents, for instance.) Not fully Hallmark, but she probably does watch some Hallmark at Christmas. According to AdWeek, they’re “leaning deeper into content Meredith knows its readers enjoy: entertainment, celebrity news and royals coverage.” They are angling for a younger, more multicultural audience, through channels like IGTV and “a new series geared toward Latina mothers and, overall, reach more women by covering more of their stories.”
But the approach is not critical, but rather one of generic uplift that reaches the broadest possible swath of women without alienating anybody:
Under programming in partnership with #SeeHer, an initiative from the Association of National Advertisers, Meredith will also offer programming featuring Katie Couric and fashion designer Brandon Maxwell. “We’re really pushing into more content featuring women and all of their powerful stories to give them broader coverage in media in general,” Levene said.
Meredith is also soft-launching a new ad campaign, called Power Her Possible, which the company will tease this morning. The ad campaign is running in trade publications, which will be expanded to other partners next quarter.
In order words, it’s the traditional women’s magazine strategy, resurrected for the social media era.
Correction: Originally this post misidentified HGTV Magazine as a Meredith title; it is in fact a Hearst title. (Meredith does own the Gaines’s Magnolia, however.)