Publication Helps Consumers Shop Smart

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Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has launched ShopSmart, a shopping magazine featuring everyday consumer products.

The quarterly title will be available only on newsstands. It targets women ages 30-45.

ages 30-45. "We wanted to launch in preparation of the fall season because once it hits, it becomes harder to get newsstand space," said Kevin McKean, vice president and editorial director of ShopSmart, Yonkers, NY.

ShopSmart will have a distribution of 800,000 copies. Retailers selling the magazine include Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. A single copy costs $4.99. The magazine will be supported by in-store marketing and a national media campaign.

"Our magazine is attractively presented, but we cut to the chase," Mr. McKean said. "Instead of 85 refrigerators, we will show two high-end models and two value models, because aesthetics and function are part of the bargain."

ShopSmart will follow Consumer Reports' tradition of accepting no ads. "We think it is somewhat of a help to not have to rely on advertisers," Mr. McKean said. "If people like something, they will be willing to pay a little more to have it."

The magazine will contain tips and advice on how consumers can get the most out of the products they purchase. It will differ from Consumer Reports by providing "best of the best" lists for shoppers rather than reviews on an array of products. "We needed a platform to make shopping easier, and that was ShopSmart," Mr. McKean said.

"We can reach an audience that we couldn't with Consumer Reports." ShopSmart held focus groups and conducted lengthy research in preparation for the launch. It will continue to promote via traditional marketing channels. The title cites Domino, Martha Stewart Living, Lucky and Real Simple as competitors.

"We are not trying to say what's in style -- we save that for others," Mr. McKean said. "But we will look at the top five brands of lipstick and tell you which one will actually stay on." The publication is creating a Web site to provide updated information during its off months. It does, however, have a placeholder site at http://www.shopsmartmag.com/.

"We know from research, focus groups and newsstand response that there are a group of young people who are interested in this," Mr. McKean said. "We now have the opportunity to reach them."

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