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Advertisers finding yoga now in mainstream

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Advertisers finding yoga now in mainstream (August 6, 2004) Robert Mullins Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal Recognizing that the practice of yoga has
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      Advertisers finding yoga now in mainstream (August 6, 2004)
      Robert Mullins
      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
      practitioners.

      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
      specialized magazines.

      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
      says.

      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
      there."

      Robert Mullins covers media, marketing, retail, education and other
      subjects for the Business Journal. Reach him at (408) 299-1829.


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