The Australian | 10 August 2006
By Sally Jackson
PUBLISHING company Luna Media has come down to earth with the planned launch of its new title, G Magazine, which is aimed at “people who love life, their lifestyle and the planet”.
The bimonthly, subtitled “For a lifestyle that won’t cost the earth”, is due to reach news-stands in November and promises to instruct “neo-greens” how to do the right thing by the environment without compromising on quality.
It is based on research that shows an increasing number of people want an ethically pure lifestyle without having to sacrifice too many of the finer things.
A Roy Morgan Research report in May found that Australia leads New Zealand, Britain and the US in environmental consciousness, with 88 per cent of people agreeing that “if we don’t act now, we’ll never control our environmental problems”.
“But people are confused,” says G Magazine editor Wilson da Silva. “There is this wellspring of people wanting to do something but not sure what to do. Is it better to take the train or the bus? Organic food is healthier – or is it?
“What’s the most sustainably harvested fish? Which really is better, plastic bags or cotton? People use the cotton bag instead of the plastic bag, but cotton farming requires a lot of water and may degrade the soil. They are also quite cynical about tags like `green friendly’ and `dolphin friendly’.”
G Magazine, he says, will provide the answer to every conundrum or, if there is not a single correct answer, enough facts to enable readers to make an informed decision. Da Silva’s bywords for the title are “evidence-based” and “accessible”.
Luna Media publisher Kylie Ahern (who drives a hybrid petrol/electric car) also stresses that G Magazine will be aimed at the mass market, not the hippie return-to-nature set or the do-it-yourself wonks already busily constructing their own solar panels. (For them, the Alternative Technology Association publishes ReNew magazine.)
G Magazine’s cover price will be $5 and its initial print run between 30,000 and 40,000 copies, with Ahern hoping for initial sales between 18,000 and 25,000 copies. “It’s the start of a new category, so it’s difficult” to estimate potential interest, she says. “We’re trying to be conservative. What we want to do with the first issue is test our boundaries ... and create awareness.”
Ahern and da Silva are partners in Luna Media with Melbourne scientist and entrepreneur Alan Finkel, who sold his biotech company Axon Instruments to the California-based Molecular Devices Corp in 2004 and decided to plough some of the resulting millions into the magazine business.
Bi-monthly popular science title Cosmos was Luna Media’s first production. It started in June last year and Ahern says it has paid sales of 20,000 copies an issue, which in a couple of years she hopes to increase to at least 30,000. Cosmos is carried in the W.H. Smith chain of newsagents in Britain and by the end of this year will also be on newsstands in the US and Canada. There is also a complementary website, www.cosmosmagazine.com.
“It’s a long haul, it’s got a way to go with sales, but we have a patient investor. Alan loves the title,” Ahern says. “We’re happy with how it’s growing.”
An even bigger challenge for Cosmos than finding readers has been locating advertisers, although with a track record of 10 issues under its belt Ahern says that is getting easier. Advertisers in the present issue include ExxonMobil and Peugeot.
However, she believes that G Magazine, which will be covering the green angle on everything from gadgets and cars to home and garden, food, fashion and beauty, will appeal to a “huge range” of advertisers.
Luna Media has not stopped its growth. Da Silva is brimming with ideas for new launches and Ahern says the company is also open to acquiring an existing title to add to its portfolio.