The Two “Faces” of Family Circle Magazine – Different Covers, One Great Experience…

September 19, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

There’s nothing new about magazines having split covers, or the same magazine having several different covers, this has been happening for as far back as I can recall. However, what we’re seeing lately is how magazine editors and publishers are using the best attributes of technology and their own excellent publishing skills to laser-target their magazines to the intended audience.

Take for example the October issue of Family Circle. The magazine provides two different covers; one sold specifically at and for Wal-Mart, priced at $1.99, and the other sold to the rest of the country at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million at the $3.79 cover price. The two covers are amazingly different and each has its own personality.

When I asked Family Circle’s editor in chief, Cheryl E. Brown, about the two covers, and noted that besides the well-known fact that at Wal-Mart you always get the magazine a bit cheaper than at the bookstores, I also commented that what really grabbed my attention this month with the magazine was how upscale the bookstore version looked compared to the much more mass market appeal the Wal-Mart issue had. This was Cheryl’s answer:

“On the price difference, Family Circle and a number of other titles (including Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping, in our competitive set) have Walmart-only pricing, mostly due to Walmart’s commitment to “Every Day Low Pricing.”

“On the different cover images, we had shot multiple Halloween covers that we liked, so decided to test a different version in Walmart. Walmart has calendar themes they like to promote, like Halloween and Game Time, so we thought the more playful/brighter image might fit in better with that in-store theme. And we tried a few cover lines that were more aligned with Walmart’s emphasis on everyday value and ease. It will be a couple months before we have results back; it will be interesting to see if the cover experimentation moves the needle on sales in that venue!”

The $3.79 issue shines with a more upscale and elegant look, showcasing golden-etched and silvery pumpkins that invite us to pour a cup of pumpkin spiced cider and sit by the roaring fire as we prepare for the Halloween and jack-o’-lantern season. While the Wal-Mart $1.99 edition begs us to discover easier ways to pick our pumpkin on a budget. And while the Wal-Mart magazine is just as engaging as the more polished one, the differences are subtly depicted, yet comfortably blatant. When one is shopping at Wal-Mart, they’re looking for great sales and short lines. When one is sipping cider by the firelight, the read should be more intimate and refined; a totally different experience. And that’s what magazines provide: different experiences, as any good editor in chief and publisher knows.

Either way, the October issue of Family Circle is a good example of a magazine well done. Depending on your budget, go pick up a copy from a store or a bookstore near you; both choices will give you a good read and a good experience that only magazines can provide.

So kudos to Cheryl Brown and her team for having a focused eye on their customers, both the reader and the retailer. It’s a comforting thought to know that magazine leaders maintain a healthy scrutiny that can only make the magazine experience more customized and fun!

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…
See you at the newsstands!

One comment

  1. It might be a successful experiment for them, however I got duped into buying the magazine twice since I didn’t realize it was the same one I had purchased previously. I wonder how many others have fallen for it!

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