Women’s weeklies and lifestyle titles continue decline in latest ABCs

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, February 13, 2015

Women’s weeklies and lifestyle titles have continued to experience a year-on-year circulation decline in the six months to December 2014, according to the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC).

The women’s weeklies sector posted a 9.2% year-on-year drop. The hardest hit titles included Star (down 27%), New (down 20.4%), Now (down 17.3%), Look (down 17.1%) and Heat (down 15.1%).

While the women’s lifestyle and fashion sector posted a softer decline of 0.94% year-on-year, many of the major titles saw significant year-on-year falls. Marie Claire was hit by a by 12.9% drop in circulation, Cosmopolitan fell by 9.9%, Red dropped by 5.4% (but was up 2.2% period-on-period) and Elle fell by 5% (but was up 5.3% period-on-period).

Meanwhile, magazines in the health and beauty sector declined by 6.05% and the women’s home interests sector dropped by 3.2%.

Overall, the 447 titles audited by ABC lost sales at an average rate of 6.5% year-on-year with total circulations in the marketplace falling by more than 15m copies in 2014.

There were a number of growth sectors however, including golf (up 69%) and cycling (up 18%), aviation (up 9.3%), holiday and travel (up 7.7%), DIY (up 6.8%), motoring (up 6.7%), women's slimming (up 4.7%) and cookery and kitchen (up 2.2%).

11 of Hearst Magazines UK’s 18 audited titles delivered either period-on-period or year-on-year growth.

Good Housekeeping grew by 1.2% year-on-year, with a combined print and digital figure of 419,575, while Prima (up 2.7%), Harper’s Bazaar (up 0.6%), House Beautiful (up 3.9%), Runner’s World (up 1%) and Women’s Health (up 5%) also posted year-on-year rises.

Hearst chief executive officer Anna Jones said: “We are very pleased with this set of results. We are committed to offering our consumers the content they love, however they want it, and it is great to see such a strong print performance.”

Haymarket Media Group highlighted the performance of Forever Sports, which was the second biggest selling actively purchased men’s print title, with a circulation of 90,093, up 44.7% period-on-period. The magazine launched 11 months ago with an initial circulation of 62,277 after four months.

Haymarket chief executive officer Kevin Costello said: “It’s fantastic to see the phenomenal success of Forever Sports, a newly-launched print brand, as Haymarket’s wider portfolio of consumer brands continues to grow across a variety of different platforms.”

The highest circulating titles continued to be dominated by customer magazines. The top five titles by average circulation were The National Trust Magazine (2.1m), Asda Magazine (1.97m), Tesco Magazine (1.95m), Morrisons Magazine (1.37m) and TV Choice (1.27m).

Also in the top ten were TV listings magazines What’s On TV (1.06m) and Radio Times (783,042), customer title Waitrose Kitchen (687,100), women’s weekly Take A Break (645,884) and Petplan customer title Pet People, which had a controlled free circulation of 569,175.

Stephanie Arlett, head of publishing at global media agency Carat, said: “Most of the passion point sectors have increased. It’s unsurprising to see women’s weeklies, particularly the celebrity market, struggling because it’s a cluttered sector and you’ve got the success of Mail Online’s bitesize celebrity news, which is ideal for consumption on the go.

“The whole area around brands launching magazines is really interesting, the latest being Forever Sports, in partnership with Sports Direct. ASOS also continues to do well, up 8.1% year-on-year. The interesting area within that is the online to print trend. It shows that online brands see print as an important brand anchor.

“Digital editions have grown 38% year-on-year but it’s from a low base and if you total up the averages it’s a far cry from the print number. A lot of the more established titles that were first to go out there with digital editions are now posting declines. Audiences are wanting more from their digital editions.”

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