Saturday, June 17, 2006

Women's Mindspace - Part 1

My bed is littered with Business World, Outlook, the Brand Reporter, Pitch and a 100 other odd magazines, some new some old. I have a pressing deadline, a presentation to make, and I seem to show no inclination to start. I glance at this mess with apathy, through a gap in the pile a brightly coloured paper catches my attention without moving the magazines above I know it is a Cosmopolitan. I push the heap of junk to find a semi nude Mallika Sherawat flashing a rather sultry smile amongst other things. A bold text strategically placed read '69 wild moves to make on your man’. Hmmm… interesting enough for me to flip through the contents of the magazine.

All women’s magazine follow a particular homogeneity brightly coloured, glossy cover, endless make up ads and topped with a lot of steamy content that makes a good read, I love the escapism it offers. The fight for the Indian woman’s mind-space started 10 years back when the women had very limited choice in both the no of magazines and content of the magazine. The English magazine consuming population had Eve’s weekly, Women’s Era, and Femina.

The paper quality was poor, as was the photographic element. The content predominately doled out advice on how to be a blushing bride, how to tackle in-laws, interesting recipes and what not to do to wreck your marriage, Women’s Era is pretty much still the same. Thankfully the other magazines have acknowledged the new age women who are extremely comfortable with their sexuality, confident and in control of their lives.

One could get an occasional copy of magazines like Vogue, Harper Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Marie Claire only if one of your distant cousins were coming down from abroad or you could spot an extremely old edition at the raddiwala.

The quality of women’s magazine saw a change with the entry of foreign magazines like Cosmopolitan and Elle. It shook the local English magazines from slumber and made them rethink their strategy. After a decade, Marie Claire from the Outlook group, yet another foreign player has jumped into the bandwagon to battle it out for the Indian Woman’s mind-space. This warfare would be an interesting one both in terms of content and marketing gimmicks undertaken by each of them. It would also be interesting to observe how the new entrant would fair amongst the already established players’ like Cosmopolitan and Elle who have gone all out to woo the not just the Indian woman but the men as well. (A lot of their readership comes from the men well I don’t think one has to make any Einsteinish guess here).
I have analyzed the contents and marketing strategies of popular Women’s English magazine and here are a few observations I made

Bold, Bright and Big – Three words that describe this magazine the best. Everything in this magazine is larger than life (even the models in the photograph!). ‘Sexy lingerie from Victoria Secrets’ - ‘What to wear in bed with him’ - ’Kamasutra revived’ and the likes are the genre of stories that are predominantly covered by Cosmopolitan. Their primary target audience are SEC A, A1 women in the age group of 23-35. An undisputed leader in the high end market Cosmopolitan prides itself in being the Bible for women today.


It is a suave international fashion magazine that also made its entry into India around the same time as Cosmopolitan. Red carpet dressing, international fashion trends, reviews of a designer’s collection, photo reviews of make up, lingerie, cocktail dresses, shoes and other accessories feature in this magazine. It is truly in every sense a fashion magazine. They also have niche magazines on home décor (Elle Décor) and one for teenage girls (Elle teen). Of late the magazine has diluted its positioning by digressing from its niche market and becoming another mass brand like cosmopolitan. ‘Whats your kink quotient’ – ‘Chocolate in bed’ and many more stories of this genre is gaining importance in their editorial content (someone should tell them Cosmopolitan is already working really hard at it). Cosmopolitan has far more aggressive marketing and distribution system in place. Elle on the other hand should rethink their current below the line strategies and non-media innovations, which is grossly mismatched with their brand image (they sponsor college fests!!! – killing the very concept of niche)


It is the Indian Cosmopolitan – A complete me too. Femina woke up from its hibernation to revamp their content long after Cosmopolitan had entered the Indian market and established itself. They have launched a magazine for adolescent girls called Femina Girl. Over the years Femina has shown a considerable improvement in the quality of its contents, they have tried to imbibe a very foreign feel to their magazine and are a leader in the mid segment. They have been sponsoring the biggest beauty pagent in India - Ms. India since its inception which drives in high visibilty and brings out excellent brand association (Pond's only came in much later and it then became Ponds' Femina Ms. India).

Women’s Era

A magazine even my mum stopped reading long ago. Its contents are what it was a decade ago so less said the better.


Sandeep said...

The ONLY thing that I won in college was a copy of Cosmo - at some wierd lucky-draw. What a waste! 50-odd pages of 'how to get your man'... And the same formula each week / month ??
Oh... When will you women realise that such a male doesn't exist??

Well, thanks for the informative mag round-up. Cheers all around!