Woman's Magazines - Half Yearly Review
- Although women's magazine ABC figures have again illustrated a decline in circulations, the inclusion of digital editions has made the outlook far more optimistic.- ABC figures of women’s lifestyle magazines remained static in terms of total circulation and were 1% down for total print circulations for the previous 6 months.- Women’s fashion glossies were hit the hardest, with the older women’s sector seeing less pronounced decline.- Glamour was knocked off the top spot for the first time in a decade.- The addition of digital editions has highlighted their prevalence in the publishing environment, with overall circulation decline only -6% YoY compared to -9% in the Jan–Jun report.
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As has now become the expectation at the launch of the new ABCs, the women’s lifestyle sector has seen a further decline in circulation, with all glossies from the major publishers reporting falls in the last 6 months.The results come after a challenging half-year for print glossies. Condé Nast scrapped its Easy Living print edition in May, despite being the only paid-for glossy magazine from a major publisher to increase its circulation in the last six months of 2012. The report has also highlighted the long term decline of the biggest, most established brands like Marie Claire, Cosmo, Glamour and Vogue which, despite dominating the sector, have all continued to see circulations decline. As expected, we have seen an increase in the corresponding website unique users, according to Comscore, particularly across Vogue.co.uk, Redonline.co.uk and Instyle.co.uk.In an increasingly competitive market, Elle magazine undertook a complete redesign in 2013 in a bid to recapture its falling readership. On this occasion however it seems that change hasn’t paid off for the publication, with some seeming to be put off by the new design and finding the layouts more difficult to digest. Sadly, this has been reflected in a 6% decline in circulation YoY for the magazine. With Porter magazine releasing their first issue this month, it will certainly be interesting in the next ABCs to see how Net-A-Porter’s debut publication will challenge the existing market for women’s glossies, particularly magazines such as Vogue and Bazaar, which occupy a similar editorial space.For the second consecutive year, Company magazine reported the steepest decline, with its circulation falling by more than 50,000 print copies compared to the same period last year. With their 16-24 target audience increasingly migrating towards digital platforms, Company may look to further diversify away from their traditional print format in order to maintain relevancy in the climate. Anna Jones, the Chief Operating Officer of Hearst Magazines UK, touched on this following this week’s ABC report stating that print was only "part of the story" for Company, drawing attention to the magazine’s “new direction” and diversification into new ventures including their website, mobile content and customer events.Weekly magazines have also seen a decline PoP, with Look seeing a 17% decrease, and Grazia circulation falling by 14% year-on-year. These publications have, however, started to diversify into digital media in order to survive in an environment where press circulation is in constant decline. Grazia magazine has invested in the digital realm with a new iPad edition, which is not shown in this week’s ABCs as it features separate content to the print edition. The publication has also launched their new digital venture The Debrief with the aim to capturing a younger, more digitally savvy audience. The current Grazia website has seen a strong growth in unique users (+55%) in the last 6 months. Although their free weekly publication Stylist has gone from strength to strength in terms of circulation, Shortlist Media have also begun to further diversify with Stylist’s iPad edition just launched. Never Underdressed will also be launching their magazine in the near future. In this environment of high quality, digitised and free publications, the paid for print market is finding it increasingly hard to compete.Whilst younger audiences move away from traditional print media, titles aimed at the older women’s sector have generally slowed their rates of decline. Good Housekeeping and Woman and Home have both seen circulation figures remain flat YoY and +4% PoP, bucking the trend of declining readership and indicating the increasing average age of magazine readers. IPC have emphasised the importance of the ‘Generation Y Not’ readership of their successful monthly Woman & Home - studies show that this older audience has far greater spending power, with over half of the total UK spend in 2012 (Source : Verdict). This often overlooked audience are buying into print editions of magazines far more, with the focus of young women's sector being their digital footprint. Given these trends, perhaps the least surprising news from this year’s ABC is Glamour losing its position as the leading monthly women's lifestyle magazine after 10 years at the top. Good Housekeeping, the new paid-for leader in this sector,took the top spot by outselling Glamour by 500 copies on average each month in the six months to the end of December.Stylist now sits proudly at the top of the women’s magazine market, despite not having any digital circulation. Jul-Dec 2013 saw another successful year for the title with circulation figures up 1%, the publication’s fourth consecutive year of growth. The strength of Stylist in an environment of declining circulation has been seen across the free magazines sector in all categories, with free publications making up 12 of the top 20 circulated magazines in this year’s ABCs.The most notable change in this year’s report however has undoubtedly been that for the first time, ABC figures have combined both print and digital editions of the publications. This has served to give both the publishers and advertisers a more comprehensive and realistic view of the market. Arguably this change is long overdue, digital editions of women’s lifestyle magazines in particular being well-established territory in the media landscape. It certainly seems sensible to bring the two circulation figures together, given in most instances they are an identical product, simply on separate platforms. The ABC’s inclusion of combined print and digital data has certainly given this year’s ABCs a far more optimistic outlook, with YoY change has declined by 5% compared to last year’s 9%, whilst circulation dropped by 310k compared to 2012’s drop of over 400k. It's worth noting that in order to qualify for the audit, digital editions of the magazines must be at least a 95% replication of the print edition and must be sold for at least 20% of the cover price.The inclusion of digital editions has also marked the first time that ABCs are reporting international information - with 50% of Vogue iPad readership being from non UK residents - providing us with a far more global outlook of the media landscape. However, whilst the inclusion of digital is positive, the next step is to look at the engagement of readers with fully interactive tablet editions and precisely how they are consuming them.We have taken a brief look at the Women’s magazine website landscape too - the chart below details average growth and decline over the last 6 months. 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.According to Comscore, the clear winners are Vogue, Stylist and Dazed Digital. Bridal titles are seeing the most decline along with Glamour, Company and Marie Claire. However the latter 3 sites are still the largest in the market.Source – Comscore