Putting Older Babes On Magazine Covers Helps Sell More Copies

harper's bazar

The good news for fashion magazines is that ad pages for their ever-important September issues have started to rebound. The bad news is that overall consumer magazine circulation and newsstand sales are both down (2.3% and 5.6%, respectively, in the first six months of 2010).

So the September issues need covers that can really move those mags off the racks.

Interestingly, as Doree Shafrir notes in The Hollywood Reporter, the three most prestigious fashion titles — Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle — are putting over-40 actresses on their September covers, rather than the 20-something “Twilight” starlets one might expect.

It “sends a message that though we live in a youth-obsessed culture, there’s still something to be said for the enduring appeal of women who have been in the public eye for nearly 20 years,” writes Shafrir. (Need we remind you that Sandra Bullock recently topped Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses? Though she’s not one of the aforementioned cover models: Halle Berry, Jennifer Anniston and Julia Roberts.)

But it’s also a good business move:

Data released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations showed that single-copy sales of magazines dropped by 5.6% in the most recent six-month period measured. So it’s ever more important for editors to select cover models who will appeal to people buying mags at newsstands, grocery stores and airports, where, of course, they pay full price. And in that context, older women can seem a safer bet, appealing to a wider audience — and a wider magazine-buying audience — than, say, a younger reality show star, singer or actress.

The numbers seem to agree:

On InStyle’s covers, 40-year-old Gwen Stefani outsold 25-year-olds Scarlett Johansson and Leona Lewis (648,000, 579,000 and 610,000, respectively) — and all three were outsold by Jennifer Lopez, who was 40 when she was on the cover in September and sold a whopping 853,000 copies (though September, as mentioned, usually is the biggest month).

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter corrected their story to reflect that Leona Lewis appeared on the cover of InStyle UK, not the U.S. edition.

Don’t worry, Kristen Stewart. You’ll get there someday!

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter >>

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.