In the MBA World, Its a Jungle Out There
It came as little surprise, then, when JMG announced title and design shifts for its two flagship publications earlier this month. After all, the two magazines (MBA Jungle, aimed at biz-school students, and MBA Law, aimed at their law-school brethren) were somewhat limited by their names. The content may have been as relevant to a person in the first few years of his or her career as to a one-L, yet the titles suggested a student-first focus and thus diminished the number of potential post-school readers.
With the newly renamed Jungle Magazine and Jungle Law (a 2003 National Magazine Award finalist in its prior incarnation), JMG believes it has eliminated all confusion and set the two mags on a course for expansion. "To be honest, there's not a whole lot of change in what's inside," Housman admits. "It's about being as inclusive as possible. We don't want to close anybody out because they're not a business- or law-school student."
Where the two titles have been able to distinguish themselves from a marketing perspective, predictably, is in the audience they reach - one which has proven fairly elusive to magazine publishers. "When I speak with advertisers, I don't have to draw superficial differentiations between us and other magazines, and I don't have to say 'here's what our reader offers you,'" Housman explains. "It's been sort of a holy grail for publishers, trying to find the younger reader who is making good money and will go on to higher professional levels. Psychographically, we get the kind of 'young guns' element that advertisers covet."
Research compiled by JMG indicates that the combined average age of the Jungle Magazine/Jungle Law reader is 28. The titles skew male (around a two-to-one ratio of men to women) and have a median household income of $92,000. Twenty-five percent of the mags' readership is comprised of recent graduates; of the other 75%, 40% work full-time and most of the rest work part-time while attending grad school. On average, Jungle readers plan to spend more than $4,500 on clothing and accessories in the next 12 months.
However, neither publication is exactly Fortune in terms of magnitude or reach: Jungle Magazine boasts a circulation of 125,000, while Law trails behind at 80,000. Both publications are bimonthlies, though Housman is hoping to add at least one issue to Jungle Magazine's schedule in 2004.
To hear Housman tell it, advertisers have warmed to the title changes ("sure, our [old] names might have hurt us in the past," he admits) and updated design. Pointing to figures that 42% of readers plan to buy or lease a new car in the next 12 months and that 35% plan to spend more than $35,000 on their next auto purchase, Housman has gone hard after automotive companies, which has paid off in the form of ads from most of Detroit and several luxury brands. High-end liquor has become a regular presence on both mags' pages (scotch, vodka) and travel remains consistent, despite the industry's struggles.
Like nearly every other publisher, Housman sees opportunity in the financial-services arena. "There's this industry belief that only old people invest, which doesn't make a lot of sense," he explains. "But a large percentage of our audience is opening brokerage accounts, dealing with insurance and mortgages, renegotiating school loans - it's a segment where we want to be doing better." He also has high hopes for consumer electronics: "Most schools require laptops now, and this generation is fully wired."
Looking ahead, Housman shares the same concern about the overall state of the economy as most of his peers. "The environment is forcing us to be a little bit smarter," he says. JMG will also continue to evolve BREAK, a publication produced for STA Travel that is aimed at the 18-to-25 set.