Advertisers finding yoga now in mainstream (August 6, 2004)
Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal
Recognizing that the practice of yoga has stretched far beyond The
Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Bay Area publisher is expanding
its coverage to encompass yoga's increasingly mainstream
Yoga Journal, of Berkeley, launches a redesign of its 310,000-
circulation national magazine with its September issue. The magazine,
which is published seven times a year, has brought more mainstream
advertisers onboard, including Target Stores, the Ford Motor Co. and
General Mills, and is seeking to attract more.
The redesign is also intended to appeal to a younger group of women
practicing yoga without alienating its original audience.
Graphically, the magazine will have a new typeface, bolder, more
colorful graphics and more original photography. Editorially, it will
have more stories about the broader lifestyle of people who practice
yoga -- stories on travel, avoiding overeating, alleviating stress
and dealing spiritually with relationship issues.
When John Abbott bought Yoga Journal in 1998 from the California Yoga
Teachers Association, a trade group, the average age of a yogist was
47. Today, it is 38 and a recent rush of new practitioners includes
women in their 20s.
Catherine De Los Santos, owner of the Darshana Yoga studio, in Palo
Alto, has been teaching yoga for about 25 years.
"I think yoga is becoming more popular because more people are
looking to bring more spiritual aspects into their lives," says Ms.
De Los Santos, who was featured on the cover of the January 2000
issue of Yoga Journal.
Market research that Yoga Journal commissioned pegged the number of
Americans practicing yoga at close to 15 million, up from 5.8 million
in 1998. Eight million of the current practitioners have been doing
it for less than two years.
"We will find out if they are readers of Yoga Journal or not," says
Mr. Abbott, the magazine's president and publisher.
Paid circulation has more than tripled from 90,000 in 1998. Its
readers are 90 percent women and have average annual household
incomes of $93,500. Most subscribers have college degrees, 96 percent
own computers and 90 percent are regularly online. Advertisers tend
to be those targeting women, such as the makers of Clairol hair care
products, Volvic bottled water and Kellogg's cereal.
Readership has grown with the interest in yoga, a Hindu tradition of
exercise, meditation and controlled breathing that practitioners say
provides spiritual as well as physical benefits.
Yoga first gained publicity in America in 1968 when The Beatles made
a pilgrimage to India to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Now
yoga is regarded, along with swimming, jogging and aerobics, as one
of many ways Americans stay fit.
Yoga is taught in thousands of small studios, health clubs and even
corporate fitness centers.
Not only can yoga help reduce employee stress, it costs the employer
little to provide compared to the weights, treadmills, pools and
other expenses of a fitness center, says Patty Purpur-Gash, president
of TimeOut Services. Her Cupertino-based company runs corporate
fitness programs for Silicon Valley companies such as Cisco Systems
Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc.
"Remove a conference table from a room and you have a yoga studio,"
Ms. Purpur-Gash says.
In addition to myriad fitness magazines that have expanded coverage
of yoga in their pages, enthusiasts can choose from a handful of
Yoga Magazine is published in the United Kingdom but also is
distributed in the U.S.
Yoga International is published in Honesdale, Pa., by the Himalayan
Institute, which hosts yoga seminars and other educational programs.
Yoga International, with 135,000 subscribers, is more a magazine for
yoga purists than Yoga Journal, says Jim McGinley, whose Los Angeles
company sells ads for Yoga International.
"Sometimes I hear complaints from advertisers that Yoga Journal is
going maybe a little too far away from yoga at times, but ... they
are doing an excellent job of expanding the market," Mr. McGinley
By broadening the scope of its coverage, Yoga Journal thinks it can
broaden its readership and its advertising base.
The Ford Motor Company, a new advertiser, approached Yoga Journal to
buy an ad to promote is new Escape Hybrid SUV. Toyota already
advertises its Prius hybrid car.
"The kind of national advertisers that would choose Yoga Journal are
ones developing products for what would broadly be perceived as a
healthy lifestyle, which would include a clean environment," says Mr.
Abbott. "The Prius and the new Ford -- these hybrid cars fit right in
Robert Mullins covers media, marketing, retail, education and other
subjects for the Business Journal. Reach him at (408) 299-1829.
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