RDA debuts shelter, health pubs

Reader’s Digest Association (RDA) is launching two new lifestyle titles in an effort to grab market share while other publishers are shrinking.

Best You, a healthy living glossy aimed at middle-aged women, and Fresh Home, a more budget-driven quarterly aimed at younger couples and women, hit news­stands this month. Sales on both titles will be newsstand-driven for now.

Best You and Fresh Home are… coming to market in the recession because we believe they are both well-positioned to succeed, even in the poor economy,” said William Adler, VP of global communications for Reader’s Digest Association.

Fresh Home will have a circulation of 300,000 – the same number put forth when word of the launch leaked last year. Home Depot and Lowe’s will stock the title, pro­moting it with special displays designed to appeal to do-it-yourselfers. Displays will offer home improvement ideas and some additional guidance.

Wal-Mart, CVS, Borders and Barnes & Noble also will provide major newsstand promotions for the first three issues. If it is successful on newsstands, RDA plans to transition Fresh Home to a subscription model in the future.

Adler said RDA is not worried by the recent demises of home magazines from other publishers. Condé Nast’s own DIY home magazine, Domino, is publishing its last issue in March, going out with a rate base of 800,000, and Mer­edith’s 1.27-million-circulation Country Home also will be shuttered next month.

Fresh Home is positioned very differently than Domino, which was aimed at high-concept design and supported by luxury advertisers,” Adler explained. “Fresh Home is aimed at younger consumers, couples or women, who are looking at DIY in a totally different way. Fresh Home is really a lifestyle magazine that’s about how people live today and how they take care of the space where they live and celebrate it and enjoy it.

“The shelter magazines that have closed or struggled, they don’t resemble that at all; they tend to be high-end and very dependent on expensive luxury advertisers,” Adler continued. “Our advertisers are Ikea, Benjamin Moore ? [com­panies that represent the] way real people live.”

Other success stories in the market may prove Adler’s point. Rodale’s Organic Gardening, for instance, just raised its rate base from 235,000 to 260,000, and it credited its simple-living approach for taking it there. RDA’s own Taste of Home and Healthy Cooking also are raising their rate bases this year.

Fresh Home was heavily tested in the mar­ket during the year before its launch, and RDA decided there was need in the market for a magazine that gave advice to people who loved their homes.

Adler pointed out that many of RDA’s magazines specialize in advice and guidance.

Best You is entering a slightly friendlier launch market. Health magazines, although grappling with the same basic difficulties as other publications, seem to hold consumer attention pretty well. The magazine also has a successful precursor: a Canadian title, Best Health, which launched early last year.

Alyce Alston, president of RDA’s Home & Garden and Health & Wellness affini­ties, is helming both launches, along with the release of RDA’s Rick Warren-backed magazine/social media group, Purpose Driven Connection.

Another magazine also could be in the works for the busy company. DollarSavvy, which had a one-issue soft launch in fall 2008, may be spun out later this year.

Reader’s Digest Association’s other publi­cations include 50 versions of its namesake, as well as Every Day with Rachael Ray and Taste of Home. The company is headquartered in Pleasantville, NY.

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