Men's Magazines - Half Yearly Review

- Men’s Health has maintained its long-term position as the top paid-for men’s title despite its decline.- Lads mags are continuing to be the hardest hit losing at least a quarter of their readers.- Digital continues to grow with the Esquire website reporting an increase in unique users by 78%.Mens_Magazine_ABCs_July_December_2013v2

Click the table to enlarge.

Unfortunately the men’s market continues its downward spiral, reporting a combined circulation decrease of 1% YoY. PoP figures are up an unheard of 2% but these figures wouldn’t look so healthy without the strong digital numbers. The print only circulation is actually down 5% YoY, which is not good news as this decline continues an unwelcome trend. Similar to the first 6 months of the year, the latter half of 2013 saw multiple titles delivering double digit declines, with few titles recording an increase in circulation.

Although down -0.3% on print sales, Men’s Health continues to maintain its long term position as the top paid for men’s title reporting sales of over 200,000 copies in the July – Dec period. This is considerably higher than its closest competitor, Conde Nast title, GQ which reported a -4% decrease in circulation. We would like to think that the drop in their print circulations is down to the audiences migrating to digital editions but both of their digital numbers are down with Men’s Health down 1,678 copies and GQ down 58. It is however important to note that for the first time, the ABCs have included international figures in the form of iPad downloads. GQ is reported to have 50% UK downloads, with the other half all attributed to overseas users – highlighting the global scope of the iPad editions.

Esquire was one of the few titles to record an increase in circulation as it came out on top in terms of PoP percentage growth – a 14% lift taking its monthly print circulation to over 55,000. There was also activity on the digital front as September 2013 saw the launch of Esquire Weekly, a weekly tablet edition of the monthly magazine. It will be interesting to see how figures are affected by the imminent launch of Shortlist’s iPad edition in the next ABC report.

Once again, it was not good news for lads’ mags FHM, Nuts and Zoo all recording PoP decreases in circulation. Nuts and Zoo both reported a -33% decline in circulation. The demands of supermarket players to tone down cover content have no doubt added to the titles troubles, alongside the ease to access this type of content online for free.

Free weekly titles, Shortlist and Sport continued the ongoing tradition of easily securing the top spot; Sport’s partnership with The London Evening Standard has no doubt helped to increase circulation figures. It seems that for as long as these titles are offering consumption for free and targeting commuters in a receptive mind-set, there is little any paid for magazine can do to knock them from their reigning positions.With the ever-increasing prevalence of digital media, we have taken a brief look at the magazine website landscape. However it is important to note that the data below is based on Comscore 2013 data, which may not necessarily be in line with each site’s Google Analytics Unique Visitor data.

Please see chart below detailing average growth and decline over the last 6 months.

Mens_Magazine_Sites_Unique_User_GrowthAccording to Comscore, the clear winner is GQ, this could be a result of their site refresh or the continuous links from mag to site. The largest site in the market, which is not a magazine site but a worthy competitor in the Men’s lifestyle sector, is Ask Men. They currently have a Unique User base around 2-3 x higher than other magazine sites. Men’s Health and FHM fall into 2nd and 3rd place respectively, even though they have seen a decrease in growth PoP.

As content continues to evolve, digital innovation is more important now than it’s ever been before, with more users turning to the convenience of tablet/mobile devices to consume ‘lifestyle’ media. Whether this is on the way into work or last thing at night, the dependence on updated content at the touch of a button is something print magazines are unable to contend with. In addition, the standard of ‘freemium’ content is increasing, heightening consumers’ expectations as they expect more for nothing.