Het Belang van Limburg weekend magazines increase readership, attract younger audience

By Dominic Stas

In a climate where the printed word seems to be a dying breed, Mediahuis has witnessed great success in renewing our weekend newspaper, Het Belang van Limburg. Not only are more people turning to online sources for news, but we’ve cast a net over a seemingly impossible target audience — all inhabitants of Limburg of all ages and all income levels.

Our publication has always served the Limburg area, and we seek to maintain a strong market share of 83%. To keep the target market engaged in the publication, in 2013 we launched a new magazine called Hallo, which combined societal news with television programming for the entire week. 

The publication broke new ground in Belgium, where nothing like this had ever been launched before. Other publications — especially weekly magazines and those that publish the television schedule — closely monitored Hallo to see how it would fare in the marketplace.

By numerous measurements, we considered the launch of the magazine a success. After six months, we conducted a survey of 1,500 readers, of which 500 responded: 

  • 74% of the target market was reading Hallo. 

  • The magazine was attracting youth.

  • 87% of the target market was very satisfied with the launch of Hallo. 

  • 55% said they keep the magazine around for some time after receiving it.

Readers of the publication have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the magazine, noting it is a “very nice addition to the weekend newspaper” and that it is “a TV guide that I can leave on the table for the whole week at least.”

Additionally, readers have noted that it “can be compared to a magazine for which you have to pay” and that “we never needed to share something from our newspaper with our teenagers, but that’s different now.”

In addition to launching Hallo, we launched De Plus, also a magazine, at the same time for those readers seeking something a bit more in-depth with qualitative interviews, reports, and analysis.

Again, response to De Plus has been overwhelmingly positive, with 66% of those receiving the publication reporting that they read it and 90% of those people noting that they are very satisfied with this new launch.

Launching any sort of print publication can be a risky venture these days, but our company is not a stranger to these types of magazines. In addition to launching Hallo and De Plus, we also gave our two existing weekend magazines a facelift. 

De Markt, a consumer magazine targeted toward men, focuses on travel, cars and houses, and SJIEK, a lifestyle magazine targeted at women ages 30-50, both received new layouts with only small changes to the content. 

All four of these magazines are included with the weekend newspaper. 

It is one thing to create a publication, but it’s quite another thing to launch it successfully. All of the new publications we launched in 2013 were supported by large marketing and media campaigns that utilised television, radio, and magazine actions as well as door-to-door and point-of-sale contact.

Additionally, we combined the new content with a new subscription formula that allowed people to receive the publication digitally throughout the week and in print on the weekends. This strategy attracted a younger demographic that had not previously subscribed to the newspaper in any sort of fashion. 

Since adding this new subscription offering, we’ve started selling half of Het Belang van Limburg’s weekday subscriptions digitally with the weekend publications being delivered on paper. People still have the option to receive the printed form of the newspaper during the week if they are interested.

After one year, Het Belang van Limburg can say that with these new magazines added, we’ve increased our market share for weekend readership by 3.5%. This is likely due to a combination of factors — the new and revitalised publications, as well as the new digital subscription options — but it has overwhelmingly been a great success for us.

About Dominic Stas

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