"Allure, the first and only magazine devoted to beauty, is an insider's guide to a woman's total image. Allure investigates and celebrates beauty and fashion with objectivity and candor, and places appearance in larger cultural context." (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p1)
Well known for its pioneering approach to beauty, intelligent and truthful coverage of current issues that surround women, such as; The dangers of breast implants, eating disorders and Models addicted to heroin. Allure has been recognized for its strength and quality in journalistic writing, as well as its keen aesthetic sense seen in its photography. (Refer to appendix 3) And with it, summoned a strong following of readers that has soared to 1,150,000 (refer to appendix 1) since its beginning in 1991. (Allure Experts Reader Panel, Fas-Fax 31st December 2009)
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The Allure magazine is targeted towards urban women 18-49 years old with a middle income and a tertiary education. (Refer to appendix 1 &2) They have a certain amount of disposable income which they enjoy spending on themselves and pride themselves in making informed choices on the products and services that they consume. In their social circle, they are influencers; informed and up to date on current affairs, trends, movies, restaurants, beauty products, fashion, music, etc. They like to be the first to know and the one that informs their friends. (Allure Experts Reader Panel, Fas-Fax 31st December 2009) Conscious about their appearance thought not obsessed by it, Allure is targeted at everyday women who are culturally universal; who don't take themselves too seriously and most of all possess a sense of humour. (Quantcast Audience Profile- Allure.com, July 2010)
Allure's editorial and advertising content reflects this, the products advertised and featured in Allure range from high street fashion labels; Calvin Klein Jeans, DKNY, Guess, Sisley to designer brands; Fendi, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Coach. As for cosmetics and beauty products, the same applies; ranging from Maybelline, L'Oreal, Olay, Revlon, Garnier, to higher-end products; Lancôme, Clinique, Shiseido, Federic Fekkai, all tastefully selected with the above target market in mind. Unlike other women's magazines, Allure also contains advertising for cosmetic procedures i.e. Botox, pharmaceutical products i.e. contraceptive pills and prescription beauty products i.e. Latisse, an eyelash serum that encourages growth, showing that it does have a very specific reader.
The Keatsian adage of beauty being truth and truth beauty seems also to guide the editorial philosophy of Allure; founding editor and current editor-in-chief Linda Wells. (Delving Beneath The Skin To Cover Beauty, MOSAICA, November 1998, p1) As a results of Well's innovative and bold direction, Allure has carved itself a niche amongst the traditional genre of women's magazines which concentrated solely on the latest fashion trends and beauty prescriptive; by tackling head-on some of the more serious issues that affect women.
"We were the first women's magazine ever to write about the dangers of breast implants," Wells explains. "We did the first story on models that were addicted to heroin. We've written about eating disorders in a way that no magazine has done. I think magazines were afraid to pull the curtains back on Oz and find out that Oz is just this little man. We pull the curtain back and say, "Here's what's going on in the world.'" (Delving Beneath The Skin To Cover Beauty, MOSAICA, November 1998, p1)
Delving beneath the surface of beauty, fashion and women's health, Allure has been praised as the one magazine that consistently gives consumers the information that they need. With numerous awards in tow, including National Magazine Award, the Editorial Excellence Award (from Folio), and the Circulation Excellence Award (from Circulation Management), Allure is also highly regarded and recognized by the beauty industry for its truthful and informative reporting. It has won 29 awards from the American Academy of Dermatology, nine journalism awards from the Fragrance foundation, and the Excellence in Media Award from the Skin Cancer foundation. (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p1)
According to Linda Wells, appearances are really important in this current day. Hence it has becomes important to women, the way in which they take care of themselves; and in the methods and process of taking care of themselves; how it makes them feel. It lifts their confidence. It gives a woman a sense of price and control. Confirming those feelings and the importance of keeping up appearances these days is something that is crucial to Allure. (Q&A with Linda Wells, 28th April 2009, Kaitlin Tambuscio, p2)
Allure has a very strong and consistent editorial formula that has not changed over the years. (Refer to Appendix 4) Each issue has a specific editorial focus which changes according to trends and seasons, but it also has fixed features in certain issues through the year, every year i.e. 'Reader's Choice Ballot' in February, 'Reader's Choice Awards' in June, 'The Free Stuff Issue' in August and 'Best of Beauty: Editor's Choice Awards & Breakthroughs' in October. (Refer Appendix 8)
In this analysis I am going to use three issues of Allure dating April 2005, August 2007 and March 2010. All three consists of six sections, listed in order; Beauty reporter, Fashion, Insider's guide, Health, Features and Regulars. There are many sub-sections within these headings but for the discussion of this paper, I am only going to discuss the few that stand out.
Dedicated to beauty and acting as an insider's guide to a woman's total image, Allure's editorial content consists mainly of two categories, the external appearance; hair and make-up how-tos i.e. "Back Stage" Beauty Top 10 trends, cosmetic procedures (risks and benefits) i.e. "Feature" A Shot in the Dark; a growing number of women who are administering TCA peels and dubious fat-fighting injections to themselves, fashion trends i.e. "Fashion Stakeout" on Chloe Sevigny's fashion choices, and skin care i.e. Beauty Reporter "Youth Movement" a review on six anti-ageing products, as well as internal well-being; physical and mental health i.e. "Body News" Testing Diets and "Mood News" Sad vs. Angry. (Allure Magazine May 2005, Condé Nast Publications, p72, 88, 89, 139, 143, 252 & 168-190)
Every issue consists of a balance of these two categories spread over the six sections of the magazine, contributed by a variety of writers and photographers. The sections in Allure magazine that forms the editorial format which in my opinion makes it stand out from its competitors are described as follows.
Under 'Contributors', it highlights the contributors for that issue which are often various famous and freelance writers and photographers. This I feel gives consistent variety in terms of editorial as well as aesthetic value to the features. 'Beauty by numbers' uses numbers and statistics to reveal interesting, unique and often humorous information about a topic in the issue which is related to beauty. (Refer to Appendix 5) 'Insider's Guide' is a step-by-step guide by experts on three various topics including travel, beauty, entertaining and etiquette I.e. How to whiten your teeth? How to care for your shoes? How to stay cool under pressure? How to travel on your own? How to be a good houseguest? (Refer to Appendix 6) And finally, 'Beauty 101' a detailed pictorial guide on how-to create a look i.e. Low Ponytail, which also includes four tear-out cardboard cards for easy reference. (Refer to Appendix 7)
Founded in 1991 by Editor in Chief Linda Wells, and directed by Vice President and Publisher Agnes B. Chapski since May 2008 (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p2), Allure's masthead consists of almost one hundred staff (Refer to Appendix 9). It is owned by worldwide publishing company, Condé Nast Publications which is one of the world's most celebrated publishers. Their commitment to journalistic integrity, influential reporting and superior design combined with world-renowned editors, writers and photographers, which their magazines consistently feature; meld together to form an incredible stable of talent unmatched by any other publishing company. (A Brief History of the Condé Nast Publications, 1993)
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Some examples of the prestigious "lifestyle magazines" that Condé Nast Publications have under their belt are Vogue, GQ, Wired, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, amongst many others. (Refer to Appendix 10) Hence, it is no surprise that under the same publishing umbrella, Allure has also made its name as one of the most successful and innovative publications, backed by soaring circulation figures from its initial 250,000 in 1991 to its current 1,150,000. (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p1)
The Magazines Handbook suggests that the average advertising/editorial ratio of consumer magazines should be around 60:40 (McKay, Routledge 2000, p142).; containing enough advertising to generate revenue but still giving the reader value for money in terms of editorial. When the advertising content in a magazine is much more than 60%, it becomes cluttered with too many ads and according to Litman; will lose the editorial interest of the reader. (Litman, Journal of Advertising 1997, p4) This is further backed up by Hall's Magazine reports 2009, which show that in the last ten years, the advertising/ editorial ratio of magazines has kept closely to the 60:40 recommendations. (Refer to Appendix 11) Hence, Allure gives its readers good value as it has managed to come under the recommended 60:40 advertising/ editorial ratio as shown in Appendix 12.
HISTORY OF ALLURE MAGAZINE
Allure magazine was first published in March 1991 (Refer to Appendix 13) by Condé Nast Publications Inc., it was the first magazine entirely dedicated to beauty. Linda A. Wells is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. The current editor-in-chief, Wells started Allure because she wanted to create a women's magazine that was both informative and truthful; unlike the traditional genre of women's magazines that focused on the latest fashion and beauty products, Wells wanted to give consumers the information that they needed. (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p1) Allure has been and still is currently owned by Condé Nast Publications Inc. since its inception.
At the time of its premiere issue, Kathy Leventhal was the publisher; she only stayed with Allure for two years leaving in May 1993. However, in the time that she was with the magazine, advertising pages rose from 94.9% to 462%, in the first half of 1993 from the comparable period in 1992. Circulation also jumped 41.4% for the first five issue of the year, to 669,000. (Fabrikant, The Media Business, May 1993)
Since Kathy Leventhal's departure, Allure has seen a few more publishers come and go. Sandy Golinkin (Carmody, The Media Business, May 1993) replaced Leventhal as publisher from May 1993 but was dismissed in 1999 because of the declining market for beauty advertising. (The New York Daily News, May 2000) Next in line was Erica Bartman who took over from Golinkin but abruptly resigned in April 2000. Shortly after in May 2000, Suzanne Grimes became publisher at Allure and she helped turn around a three year financial slide , posting a 13% increase in revenue in the first and only year she was there, she left to be the Vice President-Publisher of another Condé Nast Publications; Glamour. (Betzold, Advertising Age, June 2001)
Nancy Berger Cardone was Vice President and Publisher of Allure from 2001; she left in 2008 to become Vice President-Publisher of Gourmet. Under her leadership, Allure enjoyed seven consecutive record-breaking years, she increased advertising pages by 50% and published the largest issue in Allure's history. It was also during her tenure that Allure won Ad week's Hot List and Advertising Age's Best Performer. (Gourmet Press Centre, 2010) Finally, replacing Cardone in 2008 is Agnes B. Chapski, she is also the current Vice President-Publisher of Allure. (Allure Media Kit, 19th August 2008, p2)
There are two problems that Allure encountered during its life so far; the media/digital revolution which drastically changed the way media was consumed, and the Economic Recession which significantly affected advertising revenue. In order to keep up with the digital revolution Allure launched its website Allure.com on the 17th of May 1994, the website is consistent with Allure's brand as the ultimate beauty expert resource. It feature the same sections that are present in the magazine such as; The Beauty Reporter, Inside Allure, How-tos, Trends, Salon & Spa directory, Makeovers and also includes interactive elements such as "Free stuff", Twitter and Videos. The website also enabled you to subscribe to the magazine. (Website Traffic Spy, 2010)
During the Economic Recession Allure's advertising revenue plummeted 41% in January 2009 from January 2008. January 2008 had 70 pages of ads and January 2009 only had 41 according to the Media Industry Newsletter due to clients cutting their advertising budgets to cope with the recession and turning to other less established downscale publications which offered heavy discounts.
In an interview by The New York Times, Jack Hanrahan said, Allure adopted a smart strategy to combat the financial recession; they negotiated with advertisers in regards to paging but not on price as they had larger bases of ad pages. As it is a private company, it does not need to report quarterly revenue. This enables them to preserve their well-established pricing-position of being equitable across advertisers and not engaging in heavy discounting and negotiations to secure a small schedule. Instead, they encouraged the advertiser's annual commitment to a magazine. (Clifford, the New York Times, January 2009)
As you can see, is still very much alive today. With an active website that had a monthly traffic of 487,000 readers in May 2010 and a monthly traffic which averages 208,600 readers a month, we can say that it has effectively kept up with the digital age while still maintaining its market position in print with a circulation of 1,050,000 and a readership of 6,570,000. (Allure Experts Reader Panel, Fas-Fax 31st December 2009)
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