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Provide a Detailed Analysis of a Specific Magazine – Discuss Issues Such as Target Audiences, Editorial Content, Visual and Linguistic Representations, the Construction of Particular Identities, Distribution / Marketing

In: Social Issues

Submitted By orangelina
Words 2994
Pages 12
Introduction
In recent years, the search of quality lifestyle with an affordable pricing seems to be one of the main stream desire within this little Far East city, Hong Kong. Since the 1960s to the 21st century now, the culture and life style had experienced significant change in being a colony to a special administrative region and from man power industry to a more customer base industry. These changes have created many impacts to the people who live in this city. Due to the extreme transformation of the nature in the aspect of work, the society is no longer satisfied with a simple life style. The need for different ways of relaxation have been increasing and the locals live within has an extremely high demand for their choices in traveling, dining and cultural information.

With the strong influence from the east and the west, combining with its own root from China, this created a high diversity of acceptance from the people within this city. There are many types of magazines that accommodate the reader’s need locally, from gossip to politics, gadgets to latest fashion. One of the most outstanding out of all is the ‘U Magazine’. Under Hong Kong Economic Times Limited, this publication was launched in 2005, offering an all-inclusive leisure guide in Hong Kong, consisting three individual parts with five topics – U Travel, U Food combine with U Life, U People combine with U Style.

Target Audience
The purpose and genre of U magazine is somewhat obvious. The front cover, main content and its images all represents strongly the message they are trying to put through, a luxurious yet affordable relaxation and leisure. Within the three parts of this magazine, the main part that is always on show as the front cover booklet is U Travel, the front cover of this part generally shows an image of a desire destination for traveling. Its major genre is traveling, dinning, lifestyle and culture, featuring mainly on travel. From its construction, we can see its synthetic personalization, tending to create an ideal for the mass readership, to attract stressful working class who needs to unwind and release pressure, yet the price range may not be affordable for the working class but more targeted to the high income profile audience. The main content of U Travel provides readers the most updated travel news around the world, each issue has at least three theme tours and alone with its in-depth travel knowledge and practical travel information. Although it may seem that their targeted audience is mainly travelers from all age and background, if a closer look is taken into it, its target audience is much more specific. Source from July 2008, center for Communication Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, U Magazine had a readership of approximately 550,000. Looking at an additional statistic from Q1-Q4 2009 Media Atlas, Synovate, its readership is mainly aim at high income executives, from the age of 20-39, the monthly personal and household income is above $20k and $30k respectively. Statistics also show that 45% of the readership’s education is degree level or above, the difference in sex audience of 66% of female and 34% of male. Even though this may well be what the number shows, it does not necessary give any meanings to what is U magazine’s intended target. Most of its content suggest and reflect on the statistics, but one main sector that may seem out of place is the reflection of the sexuality in readership. Most parts of U magazine from travel, dining to lifestyle, do not have any indication or obvious suggestion that it targets its audience to the female group. However there are a few issues with more female orientated cover, e.g. the front cover had a girl holding cardboard paper figure of a famous Korean star, in that issue, there was an editorial about a famous Korean series that was showing on television at the time and a feature holiday on following the schedule of a Korean celebrity was show cased.

It seems clear that in many cases, the magazine itself has a strong ability to follow the trend and to adapt to what’s in fashion and customize their content accordingly to fit their target audience. The statistic of larger amount of female readership may not simply be a selling point it’s trying to accomplish. The high amount of female readers may also depend on the culture and society within Hong Kong. It has been statistically proven that the population of female in Hong Kong is greater than of male, hence the statistic itself may not be truly accurate as some factors cannot be justified.

Editorial Content
The editorial content of U magazine covers a huge perspective of travel, food, lifestyles and living. In its core, U Travel provides the most updated information on festivals, functions, launches around the globe. It also showcase theme tours traveling destinations, offering information on long and short holidays, covering from a month long holidays, two days one night tours to shopping tours. It highlights different kind of countries all over the world, covering many topics that may interest its target audience such as holidays with the most stunning scenery, devour the traditional taste to the wild adventures in rain forests. In addition to its showcase on various travel locations, it also includes different types of traveler, reporter’s tips and columns which may be written by famous blogger or celebrities, these special writings can draw attention to the young generation in Hong Kong as it may create an image of a mutual ground of interest and perspective rather than a force feed information from the magazine’s editorial team.

Furthermore, the other sectors of U Magazine present their target readers a lot of other information. Its U People and U Style, mostly appeal to female, from interviews with celebrities, gossips to local entertainment; with U Style, its content mainly focuses on global news and trends, deluxe accessories, fashion to beauty.
Its U Food booklet introduce food and restaurants choice which target high income young executives locally, featuring the seasonal food, the new restaurants in town, wine section, the budget choice and luxury choice respectively. Again, in this section of U Magazine, it includes some food columns that are written by famous celebrities who are well known for knowing where and what is the best dining in town. Similar to U Travel, it aims to draw attention to readers who would like to hear another voice of opinion. At the same amount of content, U Life is another booklet from U Magazine that provides information about city, lifestyle, home and trend within Hong Kong. It contains cultural information that features the city, special functions on the weekends, special art and culture event such as exhibitions, cultural festival and books. Additionally, it contains editorials on the latest trend in gadgets, games…etc and home decorations, DIY…etc Columns from famous celebrities can also be found in U Life.

Visual and linguistic representations
The main front cover of U Magazine displays mainly one picture of its featured destination taking up the whole cover with three small images of the other booklets included. The image of the destination gives audience an initial attraction of holiday mood with young celebrities, using direct mood of address; looking directly at the reader sharing the joy and relaxation at the location. The colours of its main cover is usually bright, such as yellow, red, blue…etc It creates a great contrast making the whole cover stands out. With the use of blue and yellow, these colours can give viewer a strong effect of Sun and sea holidays. ‘Just as people who belong to the same culture must share a broadly similar conceptual map, so they must also share the same way of interpreting the signs of language’ (Stuart Hall, 1997), U magazine’s representation takes an approach of a unwind mood and atmosphere. Most featured images are double page spread, it concentrates mainly on the composition of the best visual display to show case the most attractive view. The settings and lightings are intentionally formed to generate a soft and light tone creating a strong feeling of relaxation. The representation of words is scarce, its linguistic representation is formed by keywords, the language form is in the form of visual image rather than using words as a medium. As quoted by John Berger (The ways of seeing, 1972) ‘Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak.’, the illustration within U Magazine, especially U Travel is so powerfully displayed, readers do not even need to think or read carefully and the message of the imagery is already imprinted into one’s brain. The editorial within U Travel is in a rigid standard form with simple header and footer, the content’s text is located away from the main focus of the image ensuring the whole picture is captured by the reader. Other smaller photos may all be captioned yet usually limited to two lines. Its layout allows readers the freedom to imagine, yet may mislead as photographs can be edited or taken in the form which gives out the wrong perception. The general atmosphere created by its visual images gives the whole magazine and the editorial a simple, tidy and classy feel in order to attract the high income executives who are their target audience.

The construction of identities
One of the most noticeable constructed identities is from the sign of U Magazine is its name, U – stands for you. It is apparent that it is telling you they are basing their ideas from the mass reader – you, emphasizing it through repetition for the whole range of the U booklets – U Travel, U Life, U Food, U People and U Style. The strong customer base constructed an idea of total all round leisure for you.

In every issue of U Magazine, there is one editorial featured location where may not be an interest to the mass audience e.g. the honeymoon location of Prince William. These locations are generally not notice by the usual travelers but may appeal to many higher class readers, as from Raymond Williams ‘Ideology ‘arises from a given set of material interests from a definite class’, it may seem clear that these places are usually remotely situated, not easy to access and have an amazing scenery. The construction of this transmits the idea of what is the ideal or dream location for a perfect get away while creating a culture of identity for a certain class of reader.

Distribution:
The circulation of U Magazine is approximately 100,000 copies being sold individually. Its distribution network covers from convenient store, newsstand to supermarket, in addition to the mention distribution channel, there are extra distribution to airlines, lounges, café and restaurants. Most of the café and restaurants that is included in their distribution are high end locations such as the CX lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, Pacific Coffee, strongly suggest the construction of their identities and the target readers they aim at. Being issue every Friday, the magazine itself suggest that they are ready to give you all the information you need to have a great weekend, again emphasizing their ideology of leisure set out for ‘you’. Another stereotype suggesting from its day of issue is for those professions who work from Monday to Friday. Since the directional change of Hong Kong’s profession, many jobs nowadays maybe service orientated, being customer base servicing, numerous jobs are on a shift routine and may not be a standard weekday working hours. For those who still hold a standard five days work from Monday to Friday, the class is of a certain type, usually office based with stable income. This point does not stand a strong recognition of what they’re trying to portray but is worth noticing.

Marketing:
The marketing campaign U Magazine runs are generally in house, or as a joint marketing promotion with another company, they reach their readership with a different approach. Most of their campaigns are done via offering readers some premiums such as physical gifts when purchased with the magazine, or limited gifts when readers return a form of coupon, these gifts may vary from travel to food packages. This scheme can give the reader a personify feeling to experience the content U Magazine is trying to sell. Other successful promotions are the joint promotion with TVB or other media company, to achieve a further exposure to a wider range of potential readers.

For the past few years, U Magazine has gained recognition in the media industry in Asia, with its achievement in winning many awards. Some most significant ones are The Asian Publishing Management Awards (APMA) 2007, IFRA 7th Asia Media Awards 2008 and Asia Travel and Tourism Creative Awards 2008. With a well-planned launch in late 2005, U magazine has won Winner award in ‘Best New Launch of A Local Title’ by meeting the criteria of having achieved its pre-launch circulation and ad sales goals and had a well-defined niche and utilized multimedia opportunities, with market surveyed well. Most importantly, U Magazine has got a strong and satisfactory feedback from both the readers and advertisers. In April 2008, the Gold award each in the categories of ‘Best in Magazine Cover Design’ and ‘Best in Magazine Special Issue’ in IFRA were awarded to U magazine. The establishment of the Asia Media Awards is aimed to duly acknowledge excellence among individuals and organizations that have embraced new technology, innovative thinking and creativity in the Asian Region. In 2009, U Magazine has been granted Bronze award in the categories of Travel Photograph (Scenic) in Asia Travel and Tourism Creative Awards 2008. U Magazine has utilized its own source and its achievement to reach its marketing target using the most cost effective way, their main focus marketing has been directed by winning these awards, creating attractions for the public and media attentions without additional cost. Most advertisement U magazine publish is within its own group of companies and publishing from the Hong Kong Economic Times Limited, which includes Money Times, e-zone and Property Times.

Conclusion
Within the main categories of travel magazines that circulate in Hong Kong, regardless of their target audience, the actual competition is scarce. However, there are plenty other magazines that provides food, people and lifestyle for the mass. The competition within the magazine industry as a whole in the lifestyle and leisure sector is extremely high. Most magazines in Hong Kong are sold as a combination set, providing more than one booklet, usually at least two to three. One of the most popular category is the gossip columns, providing information on the general or up to date news of the local celebrities. The majority of these gossip or other combination magazines will include booklets that consist of a food, lifestyle or travel sector. If we separate the booklets and look at each section one by one, it seems that the target audience is very similar, hence making it difficult to decide which is the most outstanding or popular within each sector. However, it is impossible to look at a booklet as one main product, the most important is what makes the publication stands out as a whole, within the combined booklets? What can offer the local audience the best options as a whole for relaxation and unwind purposes?

Under the pressure from work and fast pace in this little city, young people, mainly generations under the age of forty-five are constantly looking for new place to eat, to chill and to hang out, or for the higher income group, maybe even a short trip away from Hong Kong on the weekends, just to switch from the surroundings of skyscrapers to a forest of green. What is the main factor or attraction that separates any one of these magazine from the rest? It seems the concentration and the focus of enjoyment in lifestyle such as travel and food play a big part in this. U Magazine condenses its content via booklets all mainly focus on the relaxation, satisfaction of what most desires in Hong Kong, food, culture, travel... and most of all, targeting its focal point in travel. To be stuck in such a small city, trapped in small flats or apartments, it is inevitable the people within it desire the freedom to get away, to see things outside of this modern forest. By basing its center on travel, spreading its interest out to food, people and life, U magazine has successfully constructed an ideology to accommodate their target audience a truly leisure magazine for ‘you’ covering all perspective possible.

From the above analysis, we can see the target audience of U magazine are the ones that can afford the so-called more luxurious option of traveling away on short trips, in additional to that group of reader, there are still a huge amount of readers who desires and aspire to these sort of middle to high class level of leisure activities. Not only does the combination of information publish by U magazine appeal to its targeted audience, for lower income readers, it creates a hopeful dream for them, a major signal and message U magazine is the dream destination of your choice. It may seem impossible for other non target readers to achieve their dream now, but the freedom to hold and reach their desire dream is still possible. The success of U magazine is not only via its editorial or visual but also in its orientation in targeted audience and its reach to those who believes the possibilities in enjoying a luxurious lifestyle.

Bibliography

U Magazine general information requested by mail from Hong Kong Economic Times Limited – U Magazine

http://www.umagazine.com.hk/

Magazines analysed:
U Magazine, Issue 305, 30th of September, 2011
U Magazine, Issue 304, 23rd of September, 2011
U Magazine, Issue 303, 16th of September, 2011…...

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Functional Analysis of Dove

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