The Lady

"Working with Corky is a complete joy - she has a happy personality and a positive approach. She is very quick to grasp a brief and quick to understand our business. She's methodical, provides excellent planning of research, operates efficiently and diligently and the end results are meaningful, relevant and incisive. She's also extremely good value for money and I'd certainly recommend her for any projects."

Nicolas Boize - Head of Marketing

The Lady

The Lady is England's oldest women's weekly magazine and has been in continuous publication since 1885. As a matter of interest, The Lady was started by a man - Thomas Gibson Bowles, who also created the English Vanity Fair.

He wrote in 1885:
"Our aim has been to deal with the many subjects in which Ladies are interested, in a manner at once fully and completely, yet not tiresome; to provide information without dullness, and entertainment without vulgarity, and to be at once useful and necessary, without ceasing to be bright and lively."

In 2009, at the suggestion of Head of Marketing Nicolas Boize, The Lady commissioned some qualitative research for the first time in their history.  This need was triggered both by an aging readership profile, a loss of advertising revenue and a magazine in need of a bit more than just a facelift.

The first part of the research involved two x three hour Focus Groups amongst existing readers at the fabulous offices of The Lady in Covent Garden, from where it has always been published. We sat in the boardroom with an oil painting of Thomas Gibson Bowles looking down at the proceedings!

Readers who subscribed to the magazine, aged between 50 and 85 took part in this initial part of the research, all independently minded ladies with some very interesting stories to tell. They loved The Lady for its intelligence, depth and scope, for its usefulness and gentle tone-of-voice, for its actively engaging events - including some excellent literary lunches with authors including Fay Weldon, Ken Follett and Michael Dobbs, and for its very challenging crossword (supposed to be much more difficult than The Times!). Interestingly their husbands often enjoyed reading it too and husbands and wives would fight over who got to read it first when it arrived on Saturday morning.

So we found out about the existing readers, their lives, why they liked the magazine and what they wanted from it.

In the second stage, we pre-placed half the groups with copies of The Lady, with the remaining sample coming to the project completely fresh and unbiased. We used 3 hour Focus Groups, all were amongst women readers of upmarket magazines, aged 45 - 65. The objective was to find out how it was perceived by non-readers, and this was a very different story; with some regarding The Lady as little more than a 'pamphlet' or listings magazine - The Lady being extremely well-known for its classifieds section. Some also perceived it to be a downmarket publication owing to its old-fashioned cover designs and layout. The way it looked, it wasn't doing a very good job at attracting new or younger readers to it.

The magazine already suspected that this was the case and the research confirmed it; some serious work definitely needed to be done. The magazine underwent an extensive redesign and engaged new editorial staff.

With a new layout, design and new glossy covers, The Lady re-launched and sales increased, bucking the trend of a downward spiral in the women's magazine marketplace. Rachel Johnson joined as its new editor, injecting new ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Some of you may have seen the Channel 4 TV programme charting Rachel's arrival at The Lady.

A further stage of research was commissioned looking at the magazine covers, since they are so crucial at generating sales at news stands. Some radically new designs were researched in-store at various WHS stores at Gatwick Airport, and they researched very successfully.

They were immediately adopted as the new style covers on The Lady which you can see on sale today.