ABC Figures: Crowded ’lads’ market needs differentiation

As the hype surrounding ’lads’ magazines’ has subsided, sales have taken a corresponding downturn. And ’me too’ launches in this increasingly homogenised sector have meant that established players, such as Loaded, FHM and Men’s Health, have suffered slumps in circulation.

As the hype surrounding ’lads’ magazines’ has subsided, sales have

taken a corresponding downturn. And ’me too’ launches in this

increasingly homogenised sector have meant that established players,

such as Loaded, FHM and Men’s Health, have suffered slumps in

circulation.



IPC’s Loaded was among the most disappointing performances, experiencing

an 18.8 per cent year-on-year sales decline. The biggest fall occurred

at the beginning of the year, with sales stabilising in the second half,

as revealed by the less dramatic 3 per cent period-on-period drop.



Andy McDuff, a managing director of IPC, said that the market was ’full

of followers’, and that sales will improve as Loaded returns to its

’setting the agenda’ roots.



Emap’s FHM maintained its position, but was down 6.5 per cent year on

year. It continued to sell more than 700,000 copies, however, and is

ahead of its nearest rival, Loaded, by more than 330,000.



Of greater concern to the publisher is Sky magazine, which fell by 24.2

per cent year on year to an ABC figure of just over 100,000. Its move to

become more ’laddish’ has not paid off.



According to Paul Keenan, the chief executive of Emap Elan Network, it

will ’return to a more unisex approach and be aggressively

marketed’.



Although Maxim lost some readers, its fall of 2.1 per cent was

insignificant compared with its nearest rivals and with magazines such

as Men’s Health, Arena and Esquire.



New launches, including IPC’s Later and Cabal’s Front, helped the sector

as a whole grow by almost 4 per cent to 2.6 million copies. John Brown’s

Bizarre and Time’s Wallpaper were star performers with 26.7 per cent and

23.3 per cent growth respectively.



Verdict Existing players will seek greater differentiation in a bid to

appeal to jaded readers. Publishers will also be more cautious about new

launches in this increasingly tough market. Brand spin-offs,

particularly in new media, look set to continue.



Men’s magazines

Title               Publisher      Total ABC    Period on    Year on

                                                 period %       year

FHM                 Emap             702,514          0.2       -6.5

Loaded              IPC              371,548         -3.3      -18.8

Maxim               Dennis           315,102          1.6       -2.1

Men’s Health        Rodale Press     233,653          6.8      -17.5

GQ                  Conde Nast       142,162         -2.0        7.5

Front               Cabal            141,742          1.1      n/a

Wallpaper           Time             125,984         10.7       23.3

Bizarre             John Brown       120,534         11.8       26.7

Esquire             NatMags          100,482          0.1       -7.2

Sky                 Emap             100,400        -13.2      -24.2

Later               IPC               90,555        n/a        n/a

FHM Collections     Emap              81,849        n/a        n/a

The Face            Wagadon           61,341          5.9      -14.1

Stuff               Haymarket         52,403        n/a        n/a

Arena               Wagadon           47,096          0.7      -22.7

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (July-December 1999)



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