Analysis: Teen Mags

Which is best for bands, boys and beauty? Teenage girls vote with their pocket money, says Sophie Morris
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The Independent Online

Natmags. Circulation: 213,311. £2

A-list covergirls, an upmarket price tag and a large number of ABC1 readers make CosmoGIRL! the Vogue of the teen market. And although the average reader is only 15, the fashion and beauty pieces wouldn't look out of place in its big-sister magazine. Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and stars of The OC are the staple celebs, and the real-life stories are abundant, but it also takes its nurturing responsibility very seriously, with lots of relationship advice and drinking guidelines.


Emap. Circulation: 285,061. £2.10

bliss is a baby glossy for grown-up 15-year-olds. While there is nothing remarkable about the bubbly mix of gossip, celebrities, real-life stories, fashion and beauty, the tone stands out by not patronising readers - instead of an agony aunt, bliss devotees are treated to Life, Love, Body and Cash & Careers Gurus. The styling wouldn't disappoint any fashion-forward 20-year-old, while the features hit on tricky teen issues, such as coping with parents' divorce.


Hachette-Filipacchi. Circulation: 295,364. £2.10

Sugar's description of girl band Girls Aloud is probably a fair analogy for the magazine itself: "not cool, not credible, but who cares?". Just out-selling bliss, Sugar is packed with affordable fashion, decent gossip, hot men, unpretentious lifestyle features, shocking true stories, and, of course, teeny-bopper band McFly. The perfect mag for girls who aren't afraid to admit they aspire to being like Jessica Simpson, and watch the Emmerdale omnibus.


Hachette-Filipacchi. Circulation: 90,334. £2.10

Like CosmoGIRL!, this is a sophisticated offering for girls with style, opinions and spending power - encapsulated by the voice of Peaches Geldof, a genius scoop of a celebrity columnist sure to raise ELLEgirl's profile and sales figures. Though this month's cover girl is the ubiquitous airhead Paris Hilton, the tone is edgier and sassier than the other teen offerings - think Alison Goldfrapp, Marc Jacobs, rock chicks and the odd worthy cause.


IPC. Circulation: 70,320. £1.60

Fortnightly Mizz pitches itself as every girl's "chatterbox best friend", and it's certainly loyal, celebrating 20 years in print this year. Aimed at the youngest teens, the focus is on friendship, family issues and pop stars, as well as "celebs looking shocking" spreads, though older concerns such as plastic surgery and the perils of tanning do creep in. Frequent covermounts of sparkly make-up raise the stakes in the readership battle in a fairly crowded marketplace.

It's Hot

BBC. Circulation: 101,547 £2

Attacking the market for young teenage girls who aren't wholly obsessed with diet and fashion, It's Hot offers an undiluted stream of gossip, pop stars, TV and film as well as cut-out-and-keep pop lyrics to go with whichever McFly ditty you've got as your ringtone this month. CBBC favourite Fearne Cotton tackles teen angst in Fearne'll Fix It, and additional mag Extra! revitalises the tired photo-story format, injecting it with soap and pop stars.

Top of the Pops

BBC. Circulation: 200,907. £2.10

The ailing music show needs all the help it can get, and BBC's Top of the Pops magazine has recently gone fortnightly and boasts far more readers than main competitor Smash Hits. It concentrates, however, on the flurry of gossip surrounding Rachel Stevens, Jamelia and McFly instead of music itself. The current issue has some decent interviews with Blue's Lee Evans and Charlotte Church but it's of more concern that these same "musicians" are trusted with answering readers' problems.


DC Thomson. Circulation: 67,466. £2

Like bliss, but a little less glam, the handbag-sized Shout is preparing pubescent girls to cope with the trials of womanhood - boys, body myths, bronzer, plastic surgery and shoes. The covermounts are good quality for a fortnightly mag (recent treats have included a digital watch and make-up), and the covergirls are inventive, quirky role models for the aspirational target audience, such as Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie.

Smash Hits

Emap. Circulation: 126.100. £2

Smash Hits has long been the title of choice for young, pop-obsessed teens, though just like Top of the Pops magazine the emphasis these days, as shown by the nine "sizzling" men on the current cover, is on the stars rather than the pop. T4, Beyoncé, Rachel Stevens, and an official McFly column - they're all here, but only one page of music reviews, compared to five on holiday romance. Still, introducing "Pottermania" to the fold widens the appeal.


Emap. Circulation: 90,946. £1.40

"The only girls' weekly", Sneak is very much the Heat of the teen generation. Sixty-five glossy pages hone in on the biggest celebrity stories (why have Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie fallen out?), giving plenty of photo-led coverage to celebs experiencing beachwear blunders or looking "Blingin' or Mingin" around the world. The real-life stories, affordable product promotions and male and female agony aunts bring the readers back down to earth.

TV Hits

Essential Publishing. Circulation: 103,658. £2.10

The music and entertainment monthly TV Hits stands out from its competitors because of the readership it attracts - around 20 per cent are boys. Essential Publishing recently bought the title from Hachette-Filipacchi and are busy putting the finishing touches to their first issue, showcasing Blue's Simon Webbe on the cover. Hollyoaks' cast members act as the agony aunts and there is a smattering of fashion and beauty, but it focuses on entertainment rather than angst.

I Love Stars!

Tree Top Media. Circulation: 17,351. £2

This lightweight glossy has recently re-styled itself from I Love Pop! to broaden its remit to include film and television, making its pool of potential cover stars even bigger. It stands alone in bridging the awkward gap 'twixt tween and teen, with puzzles and quizzes as well as posters, gossip and fashion. The £2 price tag, ambitious for 26 pages, might be putting off readers, or maybe the kids are kicking off their magazine habits with It's Hot and Smash Hits.