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Nat Geo targets preschoolers with mag spin-off

Nat Geo's kids magazine business is about to double in size next month, with the launch of National Geographic Little Kids for the three to six set. The new title has been in the works for two years, and its editorial strategy was developed with input from four different preschool consultants. The book goes heavy on images from Nat Geo's vast stock library, and its simple stories center around animals, foreign cultures and nature, touching on themes a preschooler can relate to. For example, the first issue includes a feature about a baby panda exploring its relationship with its mother and growing up.
February 1, 2007

Nat Geo’s kids magazine business is about to double in size next month, with the launch of National Geographic Little Kids for the three to six set. The new title has been in the works for two years, and its editorial strategy was developed with input from four different preschool consultants. The book goes heavy on images from Nat Geo’s vast stock library, and its simple stories center around animals, foreign cultures and nature, touching on themes a preschooler can relate to. For example, the first issue includes a feature about a baby panda exploring its relationship with its mother and growing up.

Responding to regular reader requests for younger-skewing material, Nat Geo first conceived Little Kids as a spin-off from National Geographic Kids, a 29-year-old monthly pub that courts readers in the six to 14 age range.

A baby sister in almost every respect, Little Kids sports a smaller format at 6.5 x 7 inches and is printed on thicker stock, both of which are easier for little hands to handle. The title will compete against U.S. preschool magazines including Your Big Backyard and Ladybug, although its focus on geography, wildlife and culture is unique in the space.

NG Little Kids won’t initially include ads because it needs to build its circulation first. The kick-off issue will go out to 50,000 kids, and the bi-monthly mag sells for US$15 a year, or US$3.95 per issue on newsstands. VP and publisher of NG Kids Rainer Jenss says he’ll consider accepting a limited number of ads down the road once it can guarantee its circ on a rate card and research client demand more effectively. Editor Melina Bellows says the company may sell ads targeted at parents on a website that’s continually evolving and already features info for parents, simple activities for kids and downloadable coloring book pages and mazes.

An early direct-mail campaign to an amalgamated list of National Geographic subscribers and young parents garnered a 6.5% response rate in subscriptions. Bellows says binding cards inserted in National Geographic have also been performing well, particularly with grandparents giving subscriptions as gifts.

Though Bellows admits NG Kids readers don’t always graduate to the adult mainstay, the kids magazines do help refresh the Nat Geo brand. ‘Little Kids makes National Geographic relevant again,’ she says. ‘Parents in their 30s and 40s think of their parents getting the magazine, realize they are now those adults, and subscribe.’

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