Magazine ABCs highlight growth titles bucking downward trend

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 16 August 2019

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released the latest consumer magazine reports, highlighting a downward trend in circulation across the industry but with a number of bright spots.

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The women’s weeklies sector saw circulation drop by 9% overall

The figures, which were released yesterday (15 August) and covered the first six months of 2019, showed there were six growth sectors in the period.

Men’s lifestyle general was up by 9% year-on-year while children’s magazines: primary – girls grew by 7% with its boys equivalent up 3%. Women’s interests: parenthood was up by 2%, general interest: religion was up 1% and home interest: gardening was up 1%.

The sectors posting the largest drops in circulation year-on-year were news and current affairs: business and finance (down 38%), general interest: literary (down 22%), teenage entertainment (down 12%), women’s slimming (down 11%), general interest: retirement (down 9%) and women’s weeklies (down 9%).

The latter sector has over the past few years been prone to some of the largest drops in circulation for individual titles and this year its biggest declines were posted by OK! Magazine (down 19%), Pick Me Up (down 15%), Real People (down 14%), Woman (down 12%) and Woman’s Own (down 12%).

While no women’s weeklies titles posted growth, the smallest circulation falls were seen by Heat (down 1%) and Love It! (down 3%).

The biggest growing titles overall in the six-month period were Homes & Interiors Scotland (up 34% year-on-year), The Week Junior (up 18%), Garden Answers (up 14%), Fun to Learn – Favourites (up 10%) and The Beano (up 8%).

Print circulation of The Economist was recorded as being down by 39% year-on-year, however this is due to its print figures being compared with combined print and digital figures used last year. It recorded a digital circulation of just over 798,500 in the period alongside its print circulation of 859,232.

Other big drops in circulation were seen by Cosmopolitan (down 32%), WW Magazine (down 31%), Lego Friends (down 25%), Lego Special Series (down 24%), MoneyWeek (down 23%), National Geographic Magazine (down 21%), The Week (down 18%) and Hello! (down 16%).

Hearst UK attributed Cosmopolitan’s decline to price testing for the first three months of the period, with a trial increase from £2 to £2.50, and said the title continues to be the highest circulating monthly young women’s glossy despite the fall, with a combined print and digital ABC of 206,510.

The publisher also highlighted positive results for its titles Harper’s Bazaar (up 0.1% year-on-year), Red (up 3%), Country Living (up 2%) and Elle (up 1%).

Hearst UK chief executive James Wildman said: “We have delivered a strong set of numbers and are once again proud to retain market leadership positions in each of our monthly competitive sectors.

“This, coupled with the fact that a number of our magazine brands are increasing readership, is testament to our investment and commitment to print, our phenomenally talented editorial teams and the enduring appeal of our magazines.”

TI Media, meanwhile, highlighted positive results for some of the titles in its homes portfolio, including 1% year-on-year growth for Country Homes & Interiors. It also noted that while circulation for Woman’s Weekly dropped by 6% year-on-year, the title continued to outperform its competitors.

Woman’s Weekly’s loyal audience sees the title reign as number one in the traditional weeklies market in terms of volume for the 20th consecutive period, no mean feat in the context of our decision to remove the title from multi-pack promotions,” said TI Media group managing director for women’s weeklies, lifestyle, home interest, real life and TV Angie O’Farrell.

The most successful title in the six-month period was Tesco Magazine, though its circulation fell by 3% year-on-year to 1,884,460. Good Living (Asda) was close behind on 1,880,400 (down 4%) and the UK’s biggest paid-for-title, TV Choice, was third, with circulation down by 4% to 1,122,207.

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