Meredith dips its toes in Hispanic waters with magazine projects

Publishing behemoth Meredith is planning to increase its exposure to the Hispanic market. The Des Moines (Iowa) based publisher of widely read women's magazines such as Ladies Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens is studying how best to deliver its content to Hispanic women.

“The Hispanic woman's interest in home and family is as strong, if not stronger, than that of the ´average´ American woman”, said Tina Georgeu, Vice President of the Business Development Publishing Group at Meredith Corporation. “Since home and family is the foundation of all of Meredith's publications, we believe that our content has relevancy to Hispanic females.” Georgeou added that, while the subject of interest may be similar, Meredith is conscious of the fact that the treatment will need to be slightly different.

In 2002, Meredith's combined market share for Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal was an amazingly high 43% of the U.S. women's service market – which includes 6 mass market magazines. The women's service category could be of particular interest to Hispanic women, who might not be as interested in the more aggressive mainstream women's books such as Marie Claire or beauty and dating publications like Glamour or Jane>

“We are planning to conduct research among Hispanic women to better understand their information needs concerning home and family and the media form they would most likely turn to for such information. This is the process we would use to launch any new product at Meredith,” said Georgeou.

“Do your research,” concurred Lisa Quiroz, publisher of People en Español (annual revenues of more than US $20 million), when Portadatm asked what advice she would give to other mainstream American publishing houses interested in launching magazines targeted to Hispanics.

According to Quiroz, “People en Español has been successful because we know our consumer. We know her political and social views, her passions and concerns, her spending habits and her purchasing power. We know that from our extensive research study, the Hispanic Opinion Tracker (HOT) – the most extensive, comprehensive and revealing study of Hispanic Americans across the nation.”

Already publishing for the Hispanic market

Meredith already owns a number of Spanish-language titles. In early December 2002, it acquired American Baby Group for US $115 million from Primedia Inc. The transaction included the Spanish language parenting magazines Healthy Kids en Español, Primeros 12 Meses and Espera (for more information see “Mamas y Papás are red hot for advertisers” page 8, Portadatm No. 1 January/February 2003). Meredith said that the transaction “was a great addition to the ‘family side' of our existing home and family titles.” It added that other Spanish language versions of Meredith titles could be coming soon.

The launch of new titles for Hispanic audiences could provide Meredith with a much needed increase in circulation revenues, which dropped by 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2002. Morgan Stanley analyst Craig A. Huber speculates that about 60% of Meredith's circulation revenues come from subscriptions, while the remaining 40% come from newsstand sales.

A multimedia approach could increase the popularity of Meredith's content with Hispanic readers and advertisers interested in the Hispanic market. The company owns 11 network affiliated television stations (5 CBS, 4 Fox, 1 UPN and 1 NBC) across the United States, which made up 25% of its total revenues in 2002 (US $1.025 billion).

William H. Donald, publishing analyst at S&P, wrote in a recent report that “Meredith Corp., which had virtually no TV programming before 1996, has seized on opportunities to extend and support magazine franchises with successful TV programming and marketing. Today, Meredith has the syndicated Better Homes & Gardens weekly program, primetime network specials by Ladies' Home Journal, vignette programs for Family Money, and the syndication of a weekly program based on Country Gardens.”

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