New Year, New Look for Prevention Magazine

Redesign targets female baby boomers, downplays celebs

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Rodale's Prevention is kicking off the new year with a new look, a new focus and a new price. But unlike most women’s magazine redesigns, which are aimed at hooking younger readers, Prevention is embracing its core baby boomer audience.

When Prevention launched in 1950, it was a revolutionary guidebook for health, said svp and editorial director Anne Alexander, who worked at the magazine from 1997 to 2000 and was rehired last summer to spearhead the redesign. But in recent years, with circulation declining, Prevention seemed to have lost some of its resonance. 

Rather than try to change the magazine’s demographic, Alexander and publisher Lori Burgess, who joined the magazine last April, wanted to change the way the magazine spoke to those women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. “We realized that the consumer within that age demo was radically different than they had been 10 or 15 years ago,” said Burgess. “And more marketers weren’t talking to these women in the way they once had because they didn’t know how to address new challenges they were facing.”

Instead of talking to readers as “Doctor Mom," as Prevention used to do, now it's focusing on her needs, said Alexander, with an "encouraging, uplifting and almost indulgent" tone that's apparent in the new tagline (“Love your whole life”), cover lines (“27 days to a healthier, fitter, more energized you,” “13 trips to transform body and soul”) and new section titles (“Better Than Ever,” “Happiness News”). A cleaner design, better photography and higher price (from $3.59 to $3.99) are meant to create an "upscale feel to appeal to baby boomers."

Prevention is also moving away from celebrities, making it a bit of an anomaly among women's magazines. The January cover is a simple photo of a detox smoothie—the magazine’s first noncelebrity cover since 2010, and its first without a person since 2002. The magazine will occasionally use people on the cover but only those who fit the Prevention message, like a celebrity with a health story to tell or one of the magazine’s doctor contributors, which includes star doctors Andrew Weil, Sanjay Gupta and Travis Stork.

The new Prevention is attracting more lifestyle brands. New advertisers in the January issue, which is up 38 percent in ad pages year over year, include Eucerin, Curves gym and Wonderful Pistachios.

The January issue hits newsstands on Dec. 25, which marks a change in the magazine’s production schedule. (Like most monthlies, Prevention had typically gone on sale midway through the month.) The new newsstand date is intentionally later, said Burgess: “Readers were frustrated when an issue was coming out, and it was a month ahead of the calendarized promotions.”

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.