The top 50 actively purchased magazines are down collectively by more than 400,000 copies or 2.5% compared to six months ago. Moreover, it’s not just a few dragging circulation down, 33 of the magazines recorded declines.
There have been some launches, and it would seem that slimming is winning. Women’s Health has had its debut in the UK, after a very successful career as the sister title of Men’s Health across the globe and even Cosmo has launched yet another spin off on top of Cosmo on Campus – Cosmo Body.
Glamour retains its crown as highest circulating paid-for women’s monthly despite a decrease of nearly 7%. However, free title John Lewis Edition, published by John Brown, has overtaken it at the top of the Women’s Lifestyle sector overall, after it enjoyed a small 2.2% increase on the first half of 2011. Rival title Cosmopolitan was not so lucky and its decline of nearly 6% meant dropping below Woman and Home.
Good Housekeeping held its own and yet again led the way for the 35+ category, which on the whole reported a positive story. Red remained flat, whilst Prima boasted an increase of nearly 5%. Woman and Home had a small decline year on year but was up nearly 3% period on period.
Woman & Home magazine have been investing a lot more into their fashion offering. Women of a certain age (or middle youth as they are known in this industry) want a little bit more than the best recipe for apple pie or the most efficient food processor on the market. Long gone are the days of frumpy housewives in aprons who do not care about their appearance. If consumers are truly cutting down on the number of magazines they are willing to purchase, then they need to know that the one they are buying is giving them a bit more than the others.
Among the strugglers were More!, posting their third successive decrease (down 19 per cent to 152,571) and Psychologies Magazine (down 13 per cent to 104,491). Easy Living also had a hefty fall. The magazine and sister website have both received a much needed revamp in the last month under new editor Deborah Joseph.
Company magazine has also recently seen a revamp, in line with its spin off title, Company HS Edit. It is too early to tell whether this new look will be enough to stem the declining figures. The title has done a lot of research into their readers and what the market is truly hankering for. It is true, that any title aimed at the under 25s has suddenly taken on the appearance of a swanky street style blog. It’s very ‘too cool for school’, but perhaps Company have got it spot on. Is this what girls want? Time will tell. Nevertheless, they have done well to establish themselves as a very separate title (no longer Cosmopolitan’s little sister) by firmly marking their territory and going after a very specific audience.
The women’s weekly magazines sector was hit by a 9.6 per cent print circulation drop overall in the second half of 2011, but Take a Break remains the top-selling women’s title in the UK after a 5.1 per cent fall to 791,001 copies a week – according to ABC. IPC Media’s Now saw the biggest fall in sales, down 22.5 per cent year on year to 262,275, while Love It! was down 17.5 per cent to 200,027, and Pick Me Up dropped 17.6 per cent to 249,347 and Woman’s Own fell 7.6 per cent to 240,347. Only four titles in our analysis posted PoP increases -Closer, Women’s Weekly, That’s Life and Full House. All of the women’s weekly magazines recorded YoY declines.
Bauer’s Heat had a better performance than the first six months of 2011, when its circulation fell 21.7 per cent. In the second half of the year sales fell by just 12.1 per cent to 325,370. Is the hunger for gossip going away, or is it being consumed in other forms? The success of The Mail Online, and it’s celebrity packed content would suggest the latter.
Weekly fashion titles such as Look and Grazia have been making an effort to come up with something new and exciting. Not satisfied with the work load of creating a weekly magazine, they have set the challenge of producing a monthly in a week. The perfect bound issues of Grazia seem to be the current buzz in the market, even ES magazine have jumped on the uber fashion special issue. Look is soon to follow suit with its own perfect bound edition. This is a great move as it encourages a lot more fashion advertisers to consider them. A perfect bound issue looks expensive, it feels high end, it allows readers to get excited again.
The fashion weeklies in particular are under a lot of pressure to be all things for all women. As the supplements are battling over the title of best style guide, paid for titles like Grazia and Look have to fight harder to keep up. When consumers are picking up free supplements such as ES Magazine and Stylist, it makes them think twice about paying for something that doesn’t necessarily offer them much more. In tough recession times, consumers are less likely to be as promiscuous with their titles of choice.