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Industry Research


UK Magazine ABC Review

UK Magazine ABC Review

By Universal McCann’s Press Team

Men’s Magazines – by Nick Heales (Press Account Director)

The men’s market has not surprisingly seen another set of poor results but there are a sprinkling of positives and with Shortlist entering the fray, the combined market is actually up 31% pop.

The titles targeting the younger lads have suffered but there is hope for FHM. GQ proves that magazine circulations can grow if you provide readers with a quality product as they posted a more than impressive result.

Shortlist’s debut ABC of 462,731 is impressive but it is worth pointing out that this number is based on gross distribution of copies (effectively their print run). ABC has now changed the rules for free magazines and the next audit will show actual numbers of copies picked up.

Still, it is a good result and with distribution problems still being addressed there is hope that the next audit will post at 500k+.

A +1% pop result is not usually the kind of result a publisher would be celebrating but in the context of this market, Bauer will be extremely pleased with FHM halting the decline. It has taken a complete magazine overhaul by Anthony Noguera but with its competitors floundering there is real hope that FHM’s decline may have been halted.

IPC’s Loaded is down again (-5% pop) but the big loser is Maxim (-27% pop). This figure issomewhat swayed due to the removal of all overseas issues but ignoring these still leave the Dennis title down 14% pop.

Although the planned overhaul designed to take Maxim older won’t have influenced these results, UM predicts even tougher times ahead as changes seem too minimal to have any chance of recovering readers.

Just 18 months ago we would have looked at the men’s weekly titles to provide us with some cheery news but those days seem long gone as Nuts (-3% pop) and Zoo (-4% pop) both posted negative results again. Nuts brand extension into TV doesn’t seem to have worked wonders for the magazine!

At the older end, GQ (+1% pop) has again proved that investing in editorial quality will reap benefits for the circulation. Their decision to give the readers more pages in the main body of the mag and also provide added value in the form of supplements such as GQ Sport and Fashion has meant that they have posted one of the best results of this ABC period.

Esquire (+12% pop) posted a positive result but this is from a much lower base than GQ. Considering so much investment has gone into the re-design of Esquire, we feel that Natmags will be more than happy with the result.

The future of Arena is always questioned when the ABCs are released and with a -18% pop result, Bauer will certainly be reviewing the current profitability of the title.

Women’s Glossy Monthlies – by Martin Donnelly (Press Manager)

Uncertainty surrounded this market in the last set of results when the market leader Glamour took a sizeable drop. Overall results are steady this time around and the market is up slightly down (-0.3 % pop).

Despite no radical editorial changes, Glamour (+1% pop) seems to have steadied the ship.

The concern in this sector however is the cover price tests that have become mandatory especially leading up to ABC day. Glamour’s strongest rival Cosmopolitan (+2% pop) also reports a slight increase.

Elsewhere at the younger end of the market, Bauer’s recent take over of Emap has brought an end to New Woman as this title was clearly struggling to find its identity.

Having seemingly lost its way, Marie Claire (-1% pop) has been trying to get back to what they are good at by tackling topical global issues. Instyle’s new editor Trish Halpin has stripped out the clutter and focused on fashion and beauty and this has had a positive effect on their circulation (+1% pop).

In the middle youth sector She (+4% pop) continues to fine tune its offering however there has been heavy investment in covermounts and subscriptions which is clearly aiding their figure.

Elsewhere in this sector Eve’s new editor has really focused on their fashion credentials (+3% pop), Red is as stable as ever (-0.4% pop) and Easy Living is down slightly (-2% pop). Psychologies (+8% pop) continues to perform well proving the sceptics wrong as to whether a glossy without fashion content would work in the UK.

A stable set of results from the luxury end of market with most titles reporting relatively static figures. Vogue (+0.1% pop), Tatler (+1% pop) and Vanity Fair (+1.2% pop) will all be relatively pleased as their decreases were minimal. The star of the show is Bazaar (+3% pop), with its biggest selling issue ever running in September 2007 with Swarvoski crystals on front cover.

Women’s weeklies – by Eve Samuel-Camps (Deputy Press Director)

The latest women’s weekly ABCs indicate a straining market at saturation point. Across this cluttered sector most titles have reported declines. Even though the market is up 7.6% pop this has mainly been driven by OK! and Star which both hail from the Northern and Shell stable.

Uncertainty over the EMAP buyout has contributed to the poor results of its leading titles Closer (-4% pop) and Heat (-5% pop) as marketing budgets were cut and TV advertising for both titles dropped off. There are also concerns about the new look Heat and a feeling that editor Mark Frith has to re-look at the content of the magazine.

Last week Bauer finally put First out of its misery by closing the title and they will not be too happy with More’s circulation performance (-23% pop) especially as so much money was invested in the re-launch. The only saving grace is the fact that it is now a weekly title rather than a fortnightly title and still selling over 200k copies each issue.

In the real life sector Love It (-8% pop) and Real People (-13% pop) have suffered through lack of heavy cover price promotions that previously boosted circulation.
OK! posted the result of the ABCs with a very surprising 23% pop increase. It is surprising as there have been few heavy hitters on their front cover over the past six months so there are few reasons why they have done so well. The only reason we can attribute to the success is the fact that they have been spending so much on TV advertising.

Richard Desmond’s other title, Star, also benefited from heavy TV advertising ,posting the only other considerable increase in the market (+20% pop). Grazia (+3% pop) also continues to ride the wave of success with its mix of celebrity and fashion.

Although a modest result, IPC must be pleased that classic titles Woman (+0.4% pop) and Woman’s Own (+1% pop) have managed to halt the hefty declines of recent years. Look’s impressive debut circulation has been tainted by their second result; a rather disappointing 4% pop decrease.

Bella’s (-10% pop) circulation continues to nosedive as the magazine alienates its core readers in a drastic turnaround from classic weekly into A-list celebrity. With a new editor on board the title is looking to focus on British celebrity coverage, a more sensible move but one that may prove to be too late.

Entertainment Sector – by Joss Blanchard (Press Exec)

Bad news for the music sector, as a lack of gigs and festivals over the last six months means the market dropped by 0.3% pop.

Whilst the majority of print circulations appear to have dipped, EMAP and IPC are continually pushing their various media platforms to build strength in their brands. Q is focusing on radio with a music magazine show and monthly Q Live Club, while NME has confirmed the launch of new national digital station NME Radio this summer.

Market leader Q halts the slide and sees a slight increase (+1% pop) but is still down 7% year on year.

The weeklies saw disappointing results with Kerrang! (-8% pop) and iconic rock weekly NME (-6% pop) suffering hefty declines. IPC are focusing on the strength of the brand cross-platform and launched NMETV late last year. NME must continue to innovate and add value to the reader as they did when they teamed up with Babyshambles to give away their comeback single a week before the official release.

Despite an older loyal readership Mojo again sees its circulation decrease by 5% pop and it remains to be seen whether their strategy of introducing younger acts to the magazine has paid off.

Uncut ‘s strategy of associating themselves with live music and festivals appears to be paying off with the title posting a healthy increase of 6% pop. They also sponsored the
Suffolk music festival Latitude in 2007 and have just signed an agreement with Mean Fiddler to do it again in 2008.

Future will be disappointed with their results in this fluctuating market. Classic Rock stays static but Metal Hammer (-7% pop) sees a sharp decrease. This is a surprising result given the rising trend in supporting unsigned bands.

The film titles remain stable in a period that hasn’t seen a plethora of big releases even though 2007 saw the most cinema admissions ever, Bauer’s Empire sees a minimal increase (+1% pop) and Total Film stayed static.

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