Women’s Magazine ABCs January to June 2016: Analysis

22 Aug, 2016, by Ben Blackler

Across the whole women’s fashion and lifestyle sector there was a year on year decline of just 0.5% for the 6 months January – June 2016, which is notably more muted than in recent years and represents a less significant decline than the men’s sector at 1.1%.


The luxury monthlies still remain the most consistent, with Vogue, Harpers, Tatler and Vanity Fair all static compared to the same period in 2015. Arguably the most publicised UK magazine issue of the year was Vogue’s centenary issue. Although it was on sale for a week longer, Vogue chose not the inflate the print run as much they could perhaps have done, to ensure the issue sold out. Going into Autumn, it will be interesting to see if the 2 part documentary airing on BBC2 in September, giving a glimpse into fashion life at Vogue, will have a similar positive boost to the Tatler documentary in 2014.

Elle’s new dynamic distribution began in the first quarter (following a similar approach to Cosmopolitan, taking some of the newsstand copies and giving as free with targeted pop-ups/pick-ups and luxury retail/e-commerce partnerships). This led to increases of nearly 5% both YoY and PoP, unsurprisingly driven by their monitored free distribution, but also by subscriptions. Harpers Bazaar are also expanding their ‘intelligent’ distribution, including royal palaces, museums and galleries, all part of Hearst’s approach to actively follow their audiences rather than relying on people going to the dwindling newsstand.

Hello Fashion Monthly saw significant decreases this period, which they have attributed to increasing the price to £1.50 – it is likely it will go back to £1, especially with the likes of Cosmopolitan finding a £1 cover price a real draw. With their now established new distribution model, Cosmopolitan have still delivered growth against the previous period. InStyle and Marie Claire both saw decreases, with brand extensions hoping to balance out – for example Marie Claire’s new Fabled beauty destination (the store has just opened on Tottenham Court Road). Glamour also dropped 14% PoP despite the birthday issue on the 15th May.

Although the free weeklies continue to succeed, other weeklies continue to show bigger drops than the monthlies (notably Look and OK). Grazia have slowed down their decline this period, and will continue to include innovative partnerships such as Facebook Live, another sign that increased brand platforms are needed to excite readers and non-readers.

The digital editions still represent a small proportion of the total numbers, and substantial shifts in the tablet editions therefore don‘t significantly shift the totals. However increases in the digital circulations for both Women’s Health and Good Housekeeping helped contribute to the success of both titles at different ends of the spectrum.