By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
Harare, Zimbabwe – IN a welcome development, a new magazine titled, “Jewel” has been launched in Zimbabwe. The inaugural issue of the magazine features popular mbira queen, Chiwoniso Maraire, on the cover.
According to the magazine’s Facebook page, JEWEL is a high end business, fashion and lifestyle magazine for women.
” It is a mass- market glossy that inspires the mind and feeds the soul of Zimbabwean women. The publication is wholely Zimbabwean, it aims to fill a void for business, fashion, lifestyl…e and financial information that connects, supports and inspires women who are professionals, entrepreneurs, businesswomen and general business enthusiasts,” reads the statement,” read the statement.
According to the statement, the magazine, which will be published monthly, provides a unique insight into the minds and work of Zimbabwean women, men and organisations.
“Read by women in the know between the ages of 25 to 55. But that doesnt stop everyone else picking up a copy and staying informed,” said that statement.
For so long, Zimbabwe’s supermarket shelves have been dominated by sleek South African magazine products.
In recent months, however, a flurry of magazines have emerged in Zimbabwe. Some of the titles include, “HelloHarare,” “Ndeipi,” “Boambabwe”, “Woman,” and “H-Style” among others. Skyhost, the in-flight magazine for Air Zimbabwe has proved to be a game changer but it is a highly niche product not intended for the mass market.
In terms of presentation, aesthetics, storytelling, distribution and marketing, none of these publications have been a threat to the South African products. Advertising has also not been forthcoming to most of the publications. Most critically, none of the publications seem to have a cogent content strategy. In fact, the magazine are merely being used as vehicles to make quick money from the advertisers without delivering any vale added quality content to readers.
Judging from many of the products on the market currently, Zimbabwean magazines still have a long way to go if they’re to compete against the South African products that dominate the local market, that is, from a design and content perspective.
Having said that, anyone courageous enough to start a magazine in a market already bombarded with countless publications aimed at women deserves to be noted.
However, what will secure its success is for the publisher to continuously look at newsstands and compare their title to the rest of the magazines out there with the aim of constantly improving the look, feel and content of the publication.
The magazine could also enhance itself by having a website. In this day and age, it is almost inconceivable to launch a media product without an online presence. Granted, Jewel, has a Facebook page but more can be done and fast. In fact, most local magazine lack a compelling online presence.
The biggest challenge for online media is delivering a distinctive site. A site needs compelling content, an engaging user experience and quick, innovative launches to keep the site dynamic. It must incorporate experiences that readers want, offering multimedia, personalization, community, user-generated content, and more.
Most critically, building a strong team behind the publication will be a key defining factor for success. After all, it really does take a village to raise a magazine.