Redbook, which has tried to break itself away from the women's magazine pack by aiming at young, married moms, has now decided that those women would like fewer parenting tips and a lot more style.
Readers will see the changes with a redesign starting with the April issue. On the design side, the cover has been drastically revamped, from the new, all-lowercase logo to the layout in which the cover star—this month’s is The Hills star and current Kohl's designer Lauren Conrad—now shares real estate with illustrated cover lines. “We live in a very visual culture now, and to expect someone to be triggered to buy a magazine by a line she reads on the left side of a celebrity in small type began to seem like a stretch to me,” said editor in chief Jill Herzig.
If the product-laden cover, bright colors and celebrity experts bring to mind fellow Hearst Magazines titles HGTV and Food Network magazine, it’s no accident. Herzig said that she was inspired by both brands (as well as other international titles) during the redesign process, while Hearst Magazines president David Carey said that the success of HGTV and Food Network’s launches has benefited other Hearst titles.
In terms of the content, there’s been a major expansion in beauty and fashion coverage, which also happen to be among the few strong ad categories for magazines these days. (It now makes up 50 percent of the magazine’s editorial content, up from 30 percent pre-redesign.) According to Herzig, the “50 Under $50” shopping section that she added when she came to the magazine in 2010 immediately became the most popular section in the magazine, while style content had risen to the top of Redbookmag.com. At the same time, the growth of fast fashion brands like Zara and Joe Fresh and designer collaborations by stores like Target and Kohl's was making fashion more accessible to the average woman—and was also a bit overwhelming. “The message was so clear that [readers] really liked the idea of Redbook playing style guide,” said Herzig.
The beauty section is also more informed by digital trends, with more “how-tos” inspired by YouTube videos and Pinterest-y product pages. (Accordingly, beauty advertising has seen a significant increase, said publisher Mary Morgan, from a typical 30 percent of ad pages in past issues to 40 percent in April.) Another major style-driven addition is “Team Red,” a panel of celebrities who will write about a particular topic for the magazine each month—like designer Rachel Roy on fashion, Kelly Osbourne on fitness and Tori Spelling on home decor.
The magazine’s “shoppability” will be helped by its new partnership with Eye Capture, a mobile app that scans each print page and creates a catalog-like digital version that links each item to its retailer. Morgan said she's in the process of signing “two very large sponsorships” for the app.
To make room for all this style content, traditional service information has been pared down. Relationship and parenting tips were eliminated from the magazine, said Herzig (although Redbook will likely release another Kidbook supplement in the fall), and cooking will shift its focus from “easy weeknight meals” to food trends and celebrity chefs. “We’re not going to tell our reader about Crock-Pot recipes or feeding her family for less,” said Herzig. “Those are important subjects, and other magazines can fill her in on that.”
Whether all this will draw more fashion and beauty advertising to the magazine—Redbook's ad pages tumbled 19.4 percent to 1,082 in 2012 versus 2011, per Publishers Information Bureau—time will tell.