Teen mags: Still a girl's best friend?

As the glossy Miss Vogue hits the newsstands, Meg Carter wonders if the time-honoured relationship between teenagers and their favourite magazines can ever be rekindled

Fashion shoots featuring products from Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. Articles on under-21 style icons and the joy of wearing crowns. And Pixie Geldof on English fashion designer Henry Holland. Welcome to Miss Vogue – out now with the June issue of British Vogue – a teen magazine unlike those its readers' mums will recall from yesteryear.

"A lot of teenagers buy Vogue and I thought they would appreciate a publication specifically for them," according to Alexandra Shulman, editor-in-chief of British Vogue and Miss Vogue, whose inspiration for the new title is Teen Vogue, which is a success in the US. "We're doing it to see if there is the reader and the interest out there."

If there is, the publisher Condé Nast will tap into a lucrative market. Britain's 7.5 million teenagers wield spending power estimated to be worth £7bn a year and, despite the recession, young people's demand for designer goods is growing fast. The designer childrenswear sector alone grew by nearly £20m between 2007 and 2012, according to the retail analyst Verdict Research.

But can the innate acquisitiveness and aspirations of teenage girls really reverse a behavioural shift that's become engrained in recent years? To put it bluntly, British teen magazines are in decline. For proof, look no further than the dwindling number of dedicated titles now available at the newsstand and the slumping readership of those few that remain.

Just last month, Bauer Media announced it was shutting More!. The title's closure is a reflection of dwindling interest among younger sections of More!'s18- to 24-year-old heartland, some suggest, and a growing preference for digital content.

"Current data suggests that online is where teen publishers need to be in the future," observes Alison Drummond, head of insight at the media agency Carat. "Growing use by teenage girls of online magazines is coming at the cost of print sales – which are falling – as demands change, driven by a desire for social interaction online around relevant content."

The smartphone has become today's teens' most highly prized – and used –possession, and as a result this age group are lighter TV, radio and national press consumers, Carat's recent "My Phone is My Life" research shows. While teen boys use their smartphone mainly for gaming and entertainment, however, teen girls spend more time accessing non-gaming content and using social networks.

It's a marked shift and one that has resulted in teenage girls meeting the needs once served by teen magazines in interesting and unusual ways, according to Callum McGeoch, creative director at the youth engagement agency/digital youth publisher Livity, which in February switched publication of its own teen magazine, Livity, to online-only.

"Not so long ago, young women had a relationship with a trusted media brand which acted as their recommendation engine," he says. "Now, their filters are their friends and key individuals they look up to through social media networks."

Generally speaking, he adds, broad-brushstroke lifestyle titles make less sense now because so much content is consumed by this age group online where that content is accessed "vertically" – in other words, by specific subject or theme – and where video material is the most popular type of content.

For previous generations of girls, magazines have also been a trusted source for advice about relationships and a safe place to learn about love and sex. "The biggest thing we've seen replace the advice function once served by the traditional teen mag is YouTube stars vlogging from their bedrooms about relationships, sex and drugs," McGeoch says. "Meanwhile, online channels such as Zoella and Beauty Crush are the new J17, while interactive platforms such as Stardoll allow teens to create their own look rather than read about someone else having a makeover."

Consider the many teen magazine brands that have bitten the dust in recent years and it seems he has a point. Yes, you can still buy hard copies of Bliss, Mizz and Shout. But in February 2011, at the age of sweet 16, Sugar switched to online-only publication and now exists as the website Sugarscape.

Meanwhile, among the numerous fatalities during the Noughties were Cosmo Girl, Elle Girl, Smash Hits and Just Seventeen. And let's not forget those who came before, notably Jackie – though its must-read agony column by Cathy & Claire could upset your mum if she read it over your shoulder, the problems it addressed and advice it gave were timeless and wise.

Not everyone agrees the writing is on the wall of teen magazines, however. Over at Immediate Media – publisher of Top of The Pops magazine which, with sales of 72,000 every four weeks, claims to be the UK's top teen title – editor Peter Hart insists TOTP meets a need teenage girls still have while that digital content alone just can't meet. Posters, free gifts and unparalleled access to star talent willing to share personal experiences of the challenges they faced growing up are key elements of the mix, he explains: "Facebook and Twitter may be huge for teenage girls, but they only take you so far, and teen content on dedicated websites is really quite limited."

Back to Condé Nast, and publishing industry observers expect Miss Vogue to be well received thanks to the integral role print magazines still play in the high-end fashion world, the aspirational lifestyles they peddle and the premium glossy environment they offer advertisers. As Drummond points out: "An estimated 11 per cent of British Vogue's readers are 15- to 19-year-olds. So the magazine format still has relevance to younger readers."

Perhaps. But do today's offerings share the emotional resonance that defined many of their predecessors? Jackie and its rivals, including upstarts Blue Jeans and My Guy, are still regarded warmly as coming-of-age bibles by many women of a certain age.

In part this is, surely, a reflection of the era they served – a time when, with less content to choose from, teens were more easily pleased, and supportive advice about teenage problems was harder to find. And then there's nostalgia, of course. Which helps explain why decades on there's still a market for rebound Best of ... books, hardback albums and two compilations of Jackie: Dear Cathy & Claire.

But many, surely, would argue with the suggestion that today's teenage girls' need for information and support about growing up is any less. And, besides, regardless of whether it's at the bus stop on the way to school or via Facebook, the need to share experience and ask advice from friends is as great as it has always been.

Can the current crop of teen content – with its emphasis on fashion, lifestyle and celebrity in-magazine and online –have the same lasting impact? Ultimately, only time will tell.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

    Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

    £25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015