The dreamed-of fitness market of aging baby boomers has begun to make related buying decisions at the newsstands, and is creating publishing success where there used to be red ink. Weider Publications Inc. launched Living Fit (for women) in 1994 and Prime Health & Fitness (for men) in 1995. Both publications now outsell the industry average for their magazine categories. It seems to me that something in the appeal of these magazines is worth watching by fitness-services marketers. They navigate a number of the gray areas that fitness centers must cope with in trying to serve the graying area of the market:

* When are enough people old enough for a viable older market? Weider’s older-adult publications seemed to time their entry to just after the pioneer publications in the field tried and almost succeeded. Weider learned from Longevity magazine’s mistakes, and picked up its hard-found subscriber list.

* How do you market to an age-defined group without offending them about their age? Living Fit’s cover positions the magazine as “A guide to fitness at any age” (clever!). Prime keeps it lower-key; an early publisher’s statement said, “We’re dedicated to the confident, active man over 35,” but there’s no prominent display of the age issue. (If they say 35 are they expecting a 45-plus readership?)

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