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A 'Man' of his words - have magazines for men delivered the promise?

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A 'Man' of his words - have magazines for men delivered the promise?

Just four years back, the men’s magazine domain was charged with energy – new titles, makeovers and international players putting their best foot forward to lure the Indian male. The domain has been active and has seen interesting developments this year as well, including the likes of ‘GQ’ reiterating their international standards through on-ground initiatives or ‘The Man’ repositioning itself as a luxury magazine for the discerning male.

Men’s magazines have been seen as a platform that could play a successful role in engaging the important, but not so easily available male TG. The genre is also one of the most competitive ones with the likes of ‘The Man’, ‘GQ’, ‘MW’, ‘Men’s Health’, ‘Maxim’, ‘FHM’,  ‘Gladrags’, and so on. But have they been successful in the market? exchange4media find out from the media buyers whether this genre has gained currency amongst advertisers.

New genre, limited coverage
Speaking on the efficacy of men’s magazine as a platform for advertising, Milind Bade, GM, Marketing, Bajaj Auto Ltd, said, “I feel men’s magazine still has limited coverage. It’s a relatively new genre and will take some time to get numbers in the market. For us, to target men, an established genre like auto magazine would work a lot better. Right now, there are other platforms and other mediums (digital), which will work better for us. However, I am sure that this segment has a potential to grow in the future. We shouldn’t close our eyes to the future…”

Earlier, the Government had paved the way for the entry of foreign publications by easing the entry norms for international titles. The publishers of these editions would continue to attract 26 per cent foreign investment. The development implies that Indian readers would get access to foreign magazines at cheaper rates.

Potential is there
Sandeep Lakhina, COO, Starcom Worldwide, observed that the segment was doing relatively well and had the potential of growth in the future as the newer generation of men were becoming more conscious. He added, “The kind of things these magazine talk about are of interest to ‘new-men’ in general. They talk about gadgets, grooming, dating, relationship advice, sexual advice, etc. As men become more aware, more educated, more metro-sexual in nature, this genre will grow.” When asked if it was a worthy platform for advertisers, he said, “One publication or one genre is merely a part of the media-make. However, with the right combination, this category can work. It’s a very interesting niche medium.”

In the early days there was no magazine dedicated solely to men. Men related issues were clubbed together with other lifestyle magazines. But the scenario has changed in the last few years and the market has recognised men’s magazines as a separate category. However, industry experts believe that serious content is still lacking and the focus is still on titillation.

Need to go beyond the ‘titillation’ angle
Surbhi C Murthy, GM, Branch Head Delhi, Allied Media, observed, “I don’t think men’s magazine section has grown exponentially. It is hard to say what kind of business they are doing as the readership numbers for these magazines are not available. Amidst the plethora of magazines that we have in this section, ‘GQ’ has been able to create a different space with good content and branding. Special issues and editions of magazines such as ‘GQ’ and ‘Maxim’ have been relatively successful. ‘The Man’ was recently re-positioned as a luxury magazine and it still needs to be seen how well it does. Personally, I don’t think that the genre as a whole has been able to generate a lot of interest, however, I am hopeful that in the future it will feature prominently in a planner’s buying list. Several magazines have been merely reduced to an object of male titillation and lack serious content.”

Speaking on the advertising aspect, Bhavna Jha, Associate Vice President, TME, said, “Advertisers too are getting interested in newer mediums and niche genres. But it would not be correct to think that a male target audience could only be aimed at by advertising in men’s magazines. For example, approximately 35-40 per cent of males read ‘Femina’… I think the involvement in the magazine has increased and content has become relevant. Men’s magazine genre would give women’s magazines some tough competition in the times to come. If the content is good, the genre will grow.”

Even as most think that this genre has immense potential for growth, there is still a lot of work that needs to be put into this genre before it becomes a strong currency amongst advertisers looking for a niche target audience. Measurement is another issue that this genre faces. Due to lack of IRS and ABC figures of these magazines, it probably becomes difficult for media planners to include them in the buying mix. With more and more players coming in this genre, the magazines will have to fight it out amongst themselves to seize the advertising pie.


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