Child Magazine Does Its Homework on Insert Strategy

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After its 2001 redesign and relaunch of Child magazine, G+J USA Publishing had to start from square one testing insert media programs for the revamped publication and has built steadily upon its successes with inserts.


The new version of Child debuted in February 2001 as a lifestyle magazine targeting upscale consumers with young children.


Though the changes to the magazine aimed to increase its appeal to a desirable demographic, they also made marketing it through inserts tougher, according to the publication's marketing managers.


"Before the relaunch, we were in just about every insert media program possible, but after the relaunch we had to start using inserts more discriminatingly," said Stacey Weiss, marketing manager for Child at G+J USA Publishing, New York. "We suspected that the new book was too high-end for many of the insert media programs we had been using."


In 2001, Child's total insert volume was about 6 million pieces with an overall response rate that assistant marketing manager Jessica Ashbaugh referred to as "dismal."


"A lot of the programs we were in with the relaunch got cut in early 2002 because they weren't working for us," she said.


However, trial and error testing and a new insert with a premium got the magazine's insert media use back on track.


The new insert, introduced in mid-2002, has a clean, sophisticated look and a child's backpack as a premium. The new piece let Child retest some of the programs that had been cut after the relaunch.


"Last year we started going back into a couple of programs, and this year we've rolled out with even more," Weiss said.


Book of the Month Club's Family Book Club package insert program has been the biggest success for Child so far. With a successful test run of 200,000 pieces last year, Child has rolled out to the highest available quantities each month, which will total more than 2 million pieces for 2003.


The 2002 test yielded a response rate of 0.7 percent, which is above Child's average insert response of about 0.3 percent.


Affinity between the Child offer and the Book of the Month Club offer could be one reason for the success with this program, said insert broker Arlene Rosen, president of Alternate Response Associates Inc., who works with Child.


Child has a $1 per issue price, and Book of the Month Club has a $1 per book deal," she said. "That $1 might just be the magic number for those buyers."


Because the test was done before the backpack premium offer was in place, Weiss expects subscriber pay-up to be even better for 2003.


Though Child is testing other package insert programs, the other successful program that Child has rolled out is the Disney movie continuity club, Ashbaugh said.


Still, it's a challenge to find high-end programs for Child to test.


"We're always looking to get into a high-end catalog, but a lot of programs that would be a perfect fit aren't necessarily on the market, and the ones that are we're already in," Weiss said.


Child reached a deal with cataloger Hanover Direct to test 100,000 blow-in cards in its Company Kids catalog this July.


"If it works we will want to build on the relationship," Weiss said.


More encouraging news for Child is that its expected volume for insertion in 2003 will return to the 6 million it did in 2001 but with better results. While 3 percent of Child's business came from inserts last year, this year it will be 16 percent, Weiss estimated.


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