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As a bridal makeup specialist I used to regularly buy Asian bridal magazines to research new looks, new ways of styling and fashion for brides. I liked flicking through the pages and pages of pictures getting ideas.
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After a couple of issues the pictures all started looking the same. The same models, the same adverts, even the same sponsored MUA photoshoot pictures from one issue to the next.

I felt I ought to keep buying them to keep up with latest trends in bridal beauty. After a few years I decided to stop hoarding the magazines and just cut and keep the best bits.

The magazines became less inspiring as time went on because I’d seen all the looks before. I bought them out of a weird sense of obligation. I’d tell myself, You work with Asian brides, you should buy the magazines to stay current.

I was feeling increasingly less inspired by the same ‘recycled’ looks and adverts so I stopped buying the magazines and started looking elsewhere for inspiration. That’s when my creativity really started to flow.

Due to the repetitive nature of the content, it’s not the kind of magazine that encourages subscribers. I saw a tweet from the magazine, plugging it’s subscription service. I replied with honest feedback that there is no incentive to subscribe.

Here’s my reasoning. The newsstand price is £4.50 per issue (4 issues a year). The subscribers price from the publisher is £30 for 4 issues. You don’t need to be a maths whizz to realise that it doesn’t add up to a good deal. £7.50 per issue? So they add 75% onto cover price for P&P. Seriously? Even when you shop around, the best subscription price I found was £26 which comes to £6.50 per issue.

Mainstream magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar reward subscribers with postage savings, discount on cover price, exclusive covers or samples. Sometimes all of the above. This has made us readers a little spoilt. That said, the publishers benefit significantly from subscriptions as subscribers are guaranteed circulation. It’s a win-win situation.

Back to my Twitter conversation with the magazine… here’s how our conversation started… The magazine tweeted a plug for new subscribers to their magazine, which stated that you could now get a years subscription for 10% off, and mentioned the words value and great deal so I felt I had to respond to voice my dissent…

TasnimMUA: £27 for just 4 issues? Other magazines offer free delivery, discount on price & free loyalty gifts. Asians need to catch up! @AsianaMagazine

AsianaMagazine: @TasnimMUA We don’t need to entice people with free gifts! Also it’s a heavy magazine, lots of content so is expensive to post!

 As an auditor by day, I avoid making sweeping statements that can’t be verified, so I avoided accusing the magazine of being 50% adverts.

A few weeks passed and it bothered me, so I bought the magazine again to verify the content vs advertising ratio myself. So I counted. Page by page. Advertising pages vs content pages.
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I counted 98 pages of content. Not bad. What am I complaining about?

98 pages of content compared to 384 pages of advertising!

Let’s do the maths. 98 / 482 = 20% Seriously?

A staggering 80% of the magazine is pure advertising!
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I was very generous in what I considered ‘content’. For example I included items such as the contents page, Editors letter, multi-page clothing spreads (if it had text other than name and address of store), venue features and a 4-page cake spread (with 3 lines of text per page) as ‘content’.

I was shocked at how conservative my initial estimate of 50% was. For the magazines PR, who run the twitter account, to say “We have a lot of content” is ludicrous! You have 20% of content! 20%!

A numbers game

So let me get this right… they charge a cover price of £4.50, pitching at high end magazines like Vogue, charging loyal subscribers 50% more for their continued patronage, for a magazine that is funded by 80% advertising content…

…This is not a magazine! It’s a 482-page advertising feature with a few paragraphs thrown in for good measure. With such a high advertising content, they should be giving the mag away free!

What do you think? Are bridal magazines too expensive? Or are they worth it?What’s the right ratio of advertising and content? If advertising is more than 80% would you still be willing pay the cover price? Let me know your thoughts below.

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