Magazine Positioning

Let’s study this magazine shelf at Barnes & Noble for a second, shall we?

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Is this 1950? Who put this together: Rick Santorum?

As you can see it flows from Women’s Interest [which, if one studies the magazines, reveals that women care much about Oprah, dieting, and fashion but not much, apparently, about world politics, sports, camping, literature] into “Family/Children” [naturally, because once a woman finishes browsing “Women’s Interest” she should get down to her real duties as wife and mother] and concludes with “Food/Wine.” If one looks at the Food/Wine shelf you’ll see that the Food/Wine magazines are on the 2nd shelf, the top shelf is reserved for magazines like “Pregnany” and, my personal favorite, “I’m Pregnant.”

I have no doubt marketing experts would say this is most effective. That women like to browse their magazines all at once and that more women than men buy food magazines. Fine. But this system of shelving reinforces stereotypes and gender roles that should be archaic in the 21st century. Food is a necessity and we all eat it. It’s not gendered: men and women need food to survive much the same way. The only thing that’s gendered is our notion that women should prepare the food. And as you all know by reading this website, I’m as manly as it gets (I stage musicals with eggs) and I therefore resent any implications that food and wine are womanly arts. Does anyone else find this offensive? Am I crazy? End rage here.

8 comments

  1. It’s all marketing-driven. They put the magazines there for the same reason supermarkets put the diet shakes opposite the candybars. It may be heinous but it moves more product.

  2. I know I find it offensive, but then, magazine racks are put together to move product, not to advance social consciousness. I’m not saying that makes it right, in fact, I would think that separating magazines by more descriptive titles (like ‘dieting’, or ‘fashion’) would promote a more neutral ground that welcomes both genders, thus, upping sales… but what do I know.

  3. It’s the same story on the TV grid: DirecTV, which is what I watch, groups channels into interest chunks and the Food Network is in the 230s with other feminized networks like HGTV and Soapnet. What’s interesting about this is the ambition of the FN to attract young male viewers (there is an article about this in the current Harper’s). I wonder if the placement of magazines or TV channels actually makes much of a difference in people’s media consumption. I suppose casual readers/viewers are more likely to discover something new in the section they frequent and this reinforces status quo gender norms. But people with a real interest in food like you won’t let anything get between them and their Chow magazine (which I just checked out for the 1st time–not bad).

  4. I’m a bit offended, but not I’m-super-angry-so-I’ll-rant-about-it-all-day angry. I might rant about it for a few minutes, though.

    As a Borders employee, I can tell you that the organization of a lot of stuff in bookstores just don’t make sense.

  5. I find this mildly offensive, but it has to be grouped somewhere. In the same sense, i’m sure home improvement magazines are closer to car magazines and so on. On the topic of Food/Wine magazines, in class the other day, a girl acted as if it is unheard of for guys to look for recipes. In fact here is the dialogue:

    Girl: It’s not like guys get magazines with recipes… like Home and Gardening.

    Guy: Pscha. Yeah we do! I read Better Homes all the time.

    Me: Fuck yeah! I get magazines with only recipes in them!

    We proceeded to give each other high-fives and talk about recipes.

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