Egmont has had the licence to produce the official Barbie Magazine since the early 1990s and the firm works very closely with Mattel to ensure that the publication is always on-brand and meets consumer needs.
“Last year we commissioned a major piece of research for Barbie Magazine,” explains Siobhan Galvin, publisher at Egmont Magazines. “We set out to further our understanding of what our readers wanted from the title. We relaunched last September; we have given the magazine an aspirational styling to make it look older, but still be an appropriate and safe environment for five to six year olds.
“We are proud of the unique appeal the magazine has through the ‘accessorising Barbie’ and ‘making Barbie beautiful’ content. Barbie is the voice of the magazine and Barbie language is used throughout which enhances the interactive content.”
The title’s current ABC is 58,036, a particularly healthy figure for a magazine which relies on just one character, especially when you consider the state of the overall magazine publishing sector at the moment.
As Galvin points out, last year’s relaunch allowed Egmont to tailor the content to actually what its readers are looking for, offering greater value for money for parents.
“Covermounts are extremely important for Barbie Magazine; they really are a key sales driver,” she continues. “We aim to make them aspirational, as well as all the qualities our readers love – which tends to be pretty, pink, sparkly and glittery. We word hard to meet Mattel’s brand values of ‘Fab Life’ and ‘I Can Be’ for covermount product. Stationery sets and mock electronic items have all worked well for Barbie.”
Unusually, there is currently no online component for Barbie Magazine: “We are always looking at new ways to interact with the Barbie audience, but to date our research has shown the magazine is the most popular form of entertainment for this particular audience and their parents,” Galvin says. “So, our efforts are concentrated on ensuring the magazine is the best it can possibly be.”
When it comes to achieving standout on shelf, however, Egmont is confident that Barbie herself gives it a USP – “you cannot get Barbie magazine content anywhere else, so we maximise the strength of the brand”.
Galvin readily admits though that the children’s magazine market is a tough one, and highly competitive.
“The children’s magazine market is currently down 6.4 per cent YOY in RSV and 13.6 per cent in value,” she says. “The RSV is not suffering as much as the value because cover prices have risen and there have been many more high value issues in the market. Consequently, we are seeing that a lot of smaller titles aren’t surviving in the current marketplace and there are 31 fewer titles now than there were in 2008.
“It is true that the increasing number of multi-character titles in the market does make it harder for standalone brand magazines to compete – but this makes the strength of the Barbie brand even more important as the evergreen brands continue to deliver consistent sales to their loyal young fans.”
Barbie is riding high at the moment – she has a substantial role in this summer’s Disney-Pixar blockbuster, Toy Story 3 – and Egmont is keen to make the most of this and keep the momentum going on the magazine through the rest of the year.
“We want to continue to consistently grow our sales and, ultimately, be the must-have purchase for all Barbie fans, continually introducing new fans to the world of Barbie,” Galvin concludes.