yoga w/o the yoyos
Name change to shake off fringier associations
By David Moore
The clutter of newsstand competition is hard enough already.
It can be a lot harder if readers think your magazine is about such far-out topics as moon lodge visions or the benefits of hemp clothing.
After 28 years the health title New Age Journal is no more to be found on the newsstands, at least in that incarnation.
Body & Soul magazine, the new title as of the March/April issue of the bimonthly, picked up the cause of helping the yoga-and-yogurt crowd find their spiritual center.
Jenny Cook, editor in chief of Body & Soul, says that the renaming had been in the works since last year.
"Even though the title New Age Journal was a good one and represented ideas of health and wellness and spirituality, towards the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century it gained more negative connotations," Cook says.
"'New Age' took on things further out on the spectrum, like crystal gazing, that the magazine was never about."
Concerned about losing readers, not to mention advertisers, Cook says the magazine decided that the times had sufficiently changed. The New Age Journal had since 1998 been publishing special issues under the title Body & Soul, which Cook says had been enjoying high sell-through rates.
All that was left was to say goodbye to the New Age.
"We had just done a design overhaul for the May/June issue of 2000," says Cook.
"We didn't want to lose loyal subscribers and readers, so we did a little bit of tweaking, and we have a new tagline: 'Balanced living in a busy world.' We're still about the holistic lifestyle and how to integrate various aspects of that into modern life."
Because the magazine publishes only bimonthly, it's too early to tell how much effect the last issue's name change will have on sales, though Cook notes that the response to insert cards has increased. As New Age Journal, Cook says the magazine had a circulation of 200,000.
Cook identifies her target audience using a term coined by the natural product industry: LOHAS, short for "lifestyle of health and sustainability."
Cook describes the holistic lifestyle category as two-tiered: there are more niche titles, such as Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times, and there are mainstream titles that touch on many of the same issues, such as Oprah and Organic Style.
"In mainstream magazines there's been some hesitance about addressing spirituality," says Cook.
"Our audience loves that, they're looking for that spiritual component. They're interested in, for instance, how it's being handled on the web. Some of our readers are people who spend their adult lives sampling different religions and then going back to their original religion after experimenting," says Cook.
Cook mentions an upcoming article on the increasingly popular spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle as an example of Body & Soul's dedication to the latter half of its title.
Thumbing through, a reader is most likely to encounter advertisements for vitamin and mineral supplements, holistic learning centers and organic food companies.
"The name change has actually been a healthy one for us," says Cook. "It's opened doors that previously would have remained shut, including advertisers."
June 17, 2002 © 2002 Media Life
-David Moore is a staff writer for Media Life.