The decline in the ‘lads mag’ sector has yet to reach it’s nadir, according to the latest figures from the National Readership Survey.
Men’s weeklies Nuts and Zoo have seen alarming drops since the last survey 3 months ago, with period on period falls of 10% and 18% respectively.
And the more ‘laddish’ of the monthly men’s mags failed to stem their declines – FHM’s readership fell by 6% period on period and Loaded’s fell by 5%. Even Esquire’s readership fell by 5%, although it managed to grow it’s ABC1 readership by 3% in the same period.
However, it’s a little early to write off the ‘lads mag’ sector altogether. Although an almost terminal decline seems to have set in, these title’s still secure considerable readerships – for example, Nuts is still read by over 1/2 million men, and FHM’s readership still tops 1m, although only just.
However, men seem to be shifting their emphasis from members of the opposite sex who look good, to keeping themselves looking good. Natmag’s title Men’s Health, after overtaking FHM to become the leading men’s magazine in the last survey, has surged further ahead, growing it’s readership by 6% overall and by 13% amongst ABC1s. Its a similar story for Dennis’ Men’s Fitness, which has seen a readership increase of 4% overall since the last survey and 8% amongst ABC1s.
And it’s not just their bodies that men are looking to improve – the other noticeable winner in the latest survey is The Economist which grew it’s readership by 12% period on period and by a remarkable 20% amongst male readers.
It’s too simplistic to paint a picture of men abandoning their copy of Zoo and signing up for a copy of The Economist instead, but men’s magazine’s are seeing a fundamential shift in their readers’ priorities. Can and will the lad’s mags change tack? Perhaps. But what is clear is that in a world which is getting ever more competitive, titles that add value and can give men an ‘edge’ are triumphing at the expense of those that appeal to more frivolous pursuits.