In My Opinion: Neil Braidwood: Is there a market for magazines aimed at teenage girls?

THIS month, fashion ‘bible’, Vogue magazine, announced it would be soon launching an UK teenage version, Miss Vogue. Scheduled for May 6.

And at the end of last year, Tatler magazine published a ‘Teen Tatler’ supplement.

So, are the ‘fashionistas’ on to something? Is there a market for a printed publication for the (upmarket) teenage girl market?

I’ve worked on teenage magazines in the past, and I’ve seen them do fantastically well, then ‘fall off a cliff’. In an increasingly digital and internet age, surely teenage girls get their advice, gossip and news from there – don’t they?

My teenage daughter is glued to her mobile, so wouldn’t it make better commercial sense to target the market through that medium?

Well, yes and no. In an altogether unscientific survey of my 15 year-old daughter and her friends, they all seemed quite happy to indulge with a physical, printed magazine – almost as a break from the constant screen time.

While they would be happier with Heat or Grazia, rather than Vogue or Tatler, when asked, they said would prefer not to have to pay to read something. After all, words are free on the web.

Many newsstand titles do special promotions to lure in new readers. They have to when they are up against the internet or the raft of gratis or ‘freemium’ magazines out there, like ASOS (As Seen On Screen), Stylist and the soon-to-be-launched Net-a-porter.

Company and Cosmopolitan regularly price cut or do ‘handbag’ editions that are cheaper than the full-size version.

Another trick is to partner magazines up so you get two for the price of one – often the mags are from the same publishing house, so it’s a win-win situation. This is how Vogue will promote Miss Vogue. Mum will buy it and pass it on to teen daughter, hopefully converting her to Vogue when she is older.

But that’s the problem. Teenage girls are dying to grow up, so most would rather not read something that reinforces how old they are. When my daughter was ten, she wanted to read Shout (aimed at teens). Now she’s a teen, she wants to read grown-up magazines.

It is doubtful whether Teen Tatler or Miss Vogue will ever become stand-alone titles – too many other ten mags have gone to ‘teen heaven’, including Honey, Just 17 and Jackie. Advertisers too, would need firm evidence that the title was reaching the right market.

But that’s another thing – shouldn’t Miss Vogue have been named something more in tune with the teen market? ‘OMG Vogue’ or ‘Totesamazeballs’ perhaps?

Neil Braidwood is head of CMYK magazine design and publishing company. He is also vice-chair of PPA Scotland.