LHJ aims younger with redesign

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Meredith Corp. has redesigned its 126-year-old women's monthly, Ladies Home Journal (LHJ), in an effort to reposition the title as more positive and personal and make it more appealing to a younger audience.

The 3.8 million-circulation LHJ had its last redesign in January 2008, under then-editor Diane Salvatore. The latest version, debuting as the February 2009 issue, is organized into 6 sections — Journal, Health, Style, Life, Home and Food — in an effort to play up the magazine's home, wellness and food coverage. A “do-good” mission statement will also pervade the new book, editor in chief Sally Lee said.

“We've taken the DNA of the magazine and made it more contemporary, with more emphasis on being a good citizen and doing community service and spotlighting people making a difference in the world,” Lee explained. We're really proud of that positioning because it turned out to be on-target with the appetites of readers. We researched it online first, and the response was very positive.”

Lee added that the magazine is expected to reach an audience slightly younger than the 50-somethings that LHJ has traditionally attracted, though she believes older readers will remain loyal.

Patrick Taylor, VP of communications for Meredith, clarified, “Our readership median age is around 52-53 right now. We want to try to keep it around that mark, but if we can appeal to younger moms, that's great. We're not going after 22-year-olds, but with an audience this big, we're going to have a range.”

Many of the new LHJ's marketing efforts will take place on the digital front, with subscription offers on LHJ.com and outreach through e-newsletters and social media networks.

The redesign is intended to help the magazine play catch-up with Meredith's online properties; the corporation has made sizeable investments in the women's online space, with its recent launch of Meredith Women's Network, comprising various women's portals and magazine sites. In January, LHJ combined its online and magazine staff to better synchronize the two channels foster multichannel reader engagement.

Lee kept little from the previous incarnation of LHJ, even changing fonts, color palettes and the amount of images, which she says is now much higher.

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