ReadyMade Plans: DIY Titles Get Spotlight

While high-end shelter magazines struggle or disappear, publishers are betting on DIY-focused titles aimed at young, budget-minded readers.

Meredith is revamping its hipster shelter magazine ReadyMade in a bigger play for young, urban tastemakers. The editorial and design changes, effective with the February/March issue, are aimed at people who value community, individuality and mindful consumption, publisher Jeff Wellington said.

To that end, a new tagline is being considered: “Welcome to the creative community.” Editor Andrew Wagner, who helped found Dwell, is reintroducing a profile called “How did you get that f-ing awesome job?” New column “Why It’s Worth It” will feature items like $6 chocolate bars, speaking to what Wagner called readers’ interest in products’ back story.

Meanwhile, Reader’s Digest Association is considering expanding Fresh Home, a DIY title for young couples that celebrates down-to-earth, personal style. Introduced in spring 2009, Fresh Home has published four issues carrying a total of about 80 ad pages (Ikea, Delta Faucets, Miele among them). Both recall elements of Domino, whose combination of shelter and shopping was a hit with readers but failed to attract enough advertising, leading Condé Nast to fold it in 2009 after four years.

Jeff Alwine, a strategic buyer/planner for Spark Communications, said that while the economics of Domino may not have worked for Condé Nast, there’s potential for titles with a Domino-like sensibility that he sees in the new crop of home titles. The times call for appeals to marketers of low-priced products and price-conscious consumers. “They have to find those people in a new way,” he said.

Meredith was eyeing younger readers when it bought ReadyMade from its Berkeley, Calif., founders in 2006. It has since appointed a new editor and publisher, relocated it to the company’s Des Moines home base and more than tripled the rate base, to 325,000. The title carried 140 ad pages in 2009, recently breaking Eden Foods, Kashi and GE.

While Meredith’s other shelter titles, Midwest Living and Traditional Home, have a readership with a median age of 49-plus and at least $70,000 in household income, ReadyMade’s prototype reader has a median age of 33.2 and income of $52,894.

“They are looking at it as the young portion of the Meredith picture or audience,” Wellington said of Meredith’s view of ReadyMade. “I think it’s an important part of what they want going forward.”