It's all in the cover

Date of publication: June 15, 1993

Author: Stephen Thomas


There is more to publishing a new consumer magazine title than just coming up with the "right" cover design; but it is clearly a very critical component. As a researcher it is of primary concern to first establish a real understanding of the key motivating factors that might draw loyal readership to a new magazine concept, and in doing so provide the framework for the total creative package. This paper describes the research undertaken by my company to explore this process; from the development through to the successful launch of Inside Sport, Australia's leading sporting magazine. The first part of the paper outlines the existing environmental factors within the Australian magazine market that are of particular relevance to this case study. Especially important to this study is the relationship between male magazine buying patterns and the nature of magazine distribution within this market. Some attention is also given to establishing the setting for the launch of the local product, Inside Sport, and the U.S. competitor, Sports Illustrated. The second part of the paper details the research undertaken to support the development of the local title via qualitative and quantitative techniques. Exploratory research in the form of focus groups, assisted in the formulation of the cover, content and positioning of the magazine. Within six months of the launch this was followed up by the quantitative component to confirm the demographic and altitudinal characteristics of the readership in order to fine tune the magazine format. Finally, the paper reviews the historical performance of Inside Sport, reflecting upon the contribution that research activity played in the eventual triumph of Inside Sport over the overseas competitor.

Stephen Thomas


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