Women's Magazine ABCs January - June 2013
Print circulations have further decreased for the majority of titles period on period. All is not lost however as audiences continue to use alternative preferred platforms.- Last week's ABC figures revealed a 5% drop in the total print circulations of audited consumer magazines for the previous 6 months.- Glamour remains top of the sector.- Celebrity titles continue to decline as younger audiences get their celebrity fix online.- Publishers grow their offering to customers by focusing the attention away from circulation and towards multi platform, 360 approaches.- Grazia launch different iPad version to protect their print.
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Tut, tut. Is it more bad news in the land of mags? Has everybody got their tissues handy? I do so hate to be bearer of bad news. The women’s lifestyle sector has seen further decline since the last ABCs (Jul-Dec 2012) with the vast majority of publications suffering period on period circulation losses. Despite celebrity magazines suffering a huge decline (don’t worry chaps, you still have the royal baby to cling to), the hardest hit magazine was Company going down 30% PoP. Glamour and Stylist maintain their place at the top of women’s lifestyle sector despite Glamour suffering a drop.Stylist are unique in their model, and let’s face it, the outcome should always be positive. They are able to test new cities before they commit; if successful, they can simply increase their print run and therefore their overall circulation. It’s very clever and it’s allowed – they are a free sheet after all. But we should not criticise the title for daring to go where others have not been before. They did what others were too scared to do and it paid off – massively!Other magazines are desperate to catch up, doing what they can to stand out from the crowd and provide something a little bit different. Publishing houses are also changing their sales tactics - they are moving away from focusing on circulation alone and selling the brand as a whole instead. Sales pitches now contain words such as 'engagement', 'multi-platform experience', 'loyalty' & 'holistic media planning'. The word du jour at the moment seems to be ‘the 360 approach.’ This is obviously not a bad thing. We as an agency continue to work with media owners in this approach, making sure our campaigns contain multiple touch points reaching sub 100,000 readers. Red did it with Red Local, a Berliner sized Red bite size edition. The content was different from the main magazine, the idea behind it being that women in London and Manchester will pick up the sample and want to buy Red magazine. Sadly it wasn’t enough to increase their YoY, but there is no denying that they still have a nice and healthy number to boast about.Hearst have been the leading advocates of the 360 venture. Company magazine, despite their plummet, have been paving the way to innovation and new ideas. They argue that although they are losing a lot of readers, they are strengthening the loyalty of their core reader. This feels true when you look at the evidence. They took rather a big risk when they overhauled the whole publication, changing the size, the content and ultimately, the appeal.With a decline as dramatic as Company’s, publications are looking at other ways to protect the name of print – selling the brand and increasing the loyalty and engagement of existing readers rather than focusing on sheer numbers. Anna Jones, the chief operating officer of Hearst Magazines UK, said print was only "part of the story" reinforcing the new direction of the magazine was to engage with the reader on a number of platforms. The magazine as the brand is most likely going to be a focus point over the next year and has been ever more noticeable recently with titles such as Company and Cosmopolitan. But until titles are given the tools to sell their ‘brand’ across all levels – digital, social and print – there is no way for advertisers to know who and how many they are reaching. What is the cross over between all these different platforms and how does it affect consumer engagement?Grazia have taken a slightly different approach to protect their brand. Unlike all the other women’s titles who replicate print onto iPad, the fashion weekly provide different content on tablet from what they do in print. This was to ensure that the print sales would not be cannibalised and to attract new readers as well as to tempt existing Grazia fans to read both versions in order to get more content. It will be interesting to see how Grazia perform in the next ABCs as they will then be able to include a digital circulation after the launch of their interactive iPad app.Unfortunately we do have to shed a tear as this period has seen the death of two magazines: More! and Easy Living. Despite Easy Living having a YoY increase of 7.1% last ABC as well as their re-vamped format earlier in the year, Condé Nast felt the long term future of the print magazine was unsupportable in the challenging print market, especially with the rise in circulation primarily supported by multi-bagged sales deals. Now focusing on digital products such as its website, which saw a 466% rise in unique users in the first quarter of 2013, Conde Nast are confident the publication will thrive online as the site attracts around 330,000 unique users a month.More! closed for similar reasons and Paul Keenan, the Bauer Media chief executive, admitted the magazine had become "unviable" due to challenging economic conditions. The closure of More! reinforces the idea that younger audiences are moving away from print products and finding their information on other platforms and we are also seeing this impact on Look and Grazia who continue to dip in circulation.There are a few positives in the weekly market though. OK! Had a bit of a revamp, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a baby, nothing like a bit of fresh blue blood to boost figures for next time. OK! performed better than it’s main rival, Hello! who recorded a drop of 19% for all UK sales. This means that OK! Magazine now has a UK news trade and single copy sales figure which is over 50% higher than Hello!’s. These figures show that OK!’s re-vamped editorial package, with its greater emphasis on lifestyle and features, is proving popular with their readers.But in all the doom and gloom, there is hope that the economy is turning. The high end fashion brands are coming back to the advertising field after the recession. Bazaar for example, carried 176 paid for adverts in March issue 2013, compared to 165 in March 2012. The title did take a big risk bringing on new editor, Justine Picardie, who never edited a magazine in her life. She made big changes to the brand, taking it back to its former feel. Some readers have rebelled, hence the drop, but this was expected. There have been some real pragmatic changes such as the inclusion of Bazaar shops, which mixes up designer and high-street.And what about Women’s Health? Well, they’re only a boasting a healthy increase of 6.1% YoY and 3% PoP. Someone has certainly been taking their daily supplements. Not to be sneezed at, is it?In this time of uncertainty, magazines are moving to bigger, better and more innovative ways to ensure readers loyalty. Take for instance Conde Nast’s new partnership with Amazon in the US. Amazon will allow consumers to purchase, manage and renew their magazine subscriptions under a new "all access" plan for both print and digital editions using their Amazon account. Subscribers can still go to Condé Nast directly or to its other partners including Apple. This is a good thing; it means transparency within the industry. Apple have historically been a bit shady with their numbers, publishers have really had to fight. Amazon on the other hand, like to think a bit differently. They get that this is how trading works, this is what people need to know in order to continue advertising. The increased availability therefore should encourage readers to stick with the brand making the various options more available.So what have we learned from this round of ABC turmoil? Well, as we knew all along, the readers are not stupid. They are looking after their pennies and they want value for money. With great free content available online and in print, many people are thinking to themselves: “Why pay for content I can get for free?” But let’s not bang on about the long lasting effect of blogs et al. We have seen this year that publishers have tried to be a lot more innovative. Whether it be offering advertisers a multi platform custom solution, or creating new and exciting content for their digital platforms, we can see that the industry is desperately trying to claw its way back and really sell in ‘the brand’. We are yet to see a heart warming story of success. It would still seem that the publishers are trying to discover the all important magic formula that will save their business and change the way we buy media. Whether it be giving them the tools to sell their platforms as one, or whether it be something completely different, something will have to change in order for the titles to survive in the current climate. Cream will keep you posted...