What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago the business
magazine market in Germany was flourishing as companies both large and
small underwent flotation, dotcom mania reached its peak and the
investment community swelled by the day. Magazine titles multiplied.
As e-business and personal finance magazines proliferated, the
established players such as Capital and Wirtschaftswoche took the
redesign route to help them compete. Capital went from monthly to
fortnightly. A year on, the picture is somewhat different.
Although overall circulation figures for the last quarter of 2000 were
up, there was a marked tightening in advertising spend at the beginning
of 2001. 'The figures for the first two months of the year show a
downwards development,' Holger Busch, spokesman for the Verband
Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger, which monitors magazine adspend and
readership figures, says. He points out that 2000 was 'an extraordinary
year', not least because of the liberalisation which was taking place in
the energy and telecoms markets. Boris Schramm, the managing director of
CIA Mediahaus, puts it more bluntly: 'With world stock markets booming,
publishing houses earned their money but they didn't have to do anything
Busch's prediction is that as times become harder, there will be
consolidation within the industry: 'The titles that will be vulnerable
are those which were launched during boomtime and are very much modelled
on the advertising market rather than on readers' needs.' Already the
e-business magazine Net-Business, pub-lished by Verlagsgruppe
Milchstrasse, has announced that it will return to publishing
fortnightly (it launched in January last year as a fortnightly and went
weekly last September). Milchstrasse said that the shift would put the
title on 'a solid economic basis'. Other pub-lications are also believed
to be vulnerable.
One welcome result for advertisers is that print media are showing more
flexibility. 'Magazines have already become more advertiser-friendly,'
Schramm says. 'But there's still a big difference between what you can
do in England and in Germany.' Magazines in Britain offer more
innovative solutions, such as special packages, promotional tie-ins and
advertorials, than their German counterparts. 'Most publishing houses
have not needed to show more flexibility,' Schramm says. 'But I think
that in the near future it will be important for publishers to work more
closely with clients to make their money.'
The harsh economic climate is a theme picked up by Olivier Fleurot, the
managing director of the Financial Times Group, which launched the
Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) last February. 'It certainly makes
life tougher in terms of advertising and obviously that's the case for a
new title. Today's market is more difficult than we expected,' he
Schramm, and many other observers, believe that business magazines will
come under increasing pressure from TV, the internet and newspapers:
'When the stockmarket is volatile it is those media that can give the
immediate coverage the investing public seeks.'
Fleurot at the FTD is taking a long-term view. FTD's joint owners
Pearson and Gruner & Jahr have allowed two to three years for the
newspaper to hit a circulation of 120,000, the number they regard as
critical mass. Audited daily sales stood at 66,000 at the end of 2000.
Fleurot predicts about 70,000 for this quarter and 80,000 by the autumn.
This would represent the building-up in 18 months of around half the
circulation of the FTD's main competitor, Handelsblatt. But a far higher
percentage of FTD's sales are bulk sales (to the likes of airlines or
hotel chains) than is the case for Handelsblatt.
Most observers say Handelsblatt has been influenced by its
It has upgraded published data, extended evening deadlines and undergone
a redesign. 'They say they haven't changed their strategy, that they
always intended to do what they did,' Fleurot says, cheerfully. 'But
they did in three months what they would normally have done in three or
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt
launched its long-heralded title Wirtschaftswoche e-business in the
middle of March. The launch issue ran to 50,000 copies and included 50
pages of advertising, with 22 issues being planned over the course of
the first year. The target audience falls into two categories which
Handelsblatt terms 'high Q' (young professionals who embrace the career
opportunities the new technologies offer) and 'high P' (established and
senior decision-makers). In targeting a younger as well as an older
audience, the glossy publication is echoing the trend for business
magazines to capture readers among those who are still on the way up as
well as those who have already reached the top.
Handelsblatt says that Wirtschaftswoche e-business is not a conventional
new-economy magazine. Rather it is aimed at those who operate 'in the
The launch, they add, took place in March because that was the launch
schedule, following on from the launch of the investment magazine Die
Teleboerse last year. One insider admits, however, that '(launching) six
months or a year ago might have been fortuitous'.
Others go further. 'It's highly risky and I would not have launched it
now. But I think they have been planning it since the beginning of last
year,' an industry observer says.
'They talked a lot about it and I think it is a question of honour in
front of (rival publishing house) Gruner & Jahr.' Another explanation
among the pessimists is that the Handelsblatt group has sufficiently
deep pockets to fund the magazine's survival through the hard times so
as to beat off the competition and achieve market leadership.
TOP SELLING BUSINESS TITLES
Title Circulation % difference Ad pages % difference
sold 99 99
Vermogensberater 1,172,513 13.1 n/a n/a
Guter Rat! 229,678 2.9 265.2 -10.0
Capital Hauptausgabe 228,315 -16.3 3,546.3 78.7
Borse Online 227,406 2.5 3,894.3 35.9
Geldidee 202,801 9.1 499.5 25.5
DM Gesamtausgabe 193,245 -0.8 964.1 -0.4
Euro am Sonntag 192,160 78.1 2,395.1 n/a
Wirtschaftswoche 187,260 2.6 6,639.9 21.5
Focus Money 148,934 n/a 2,456.2 n/a
Erfolgreich Selbstand. 144,400 1.5 n/a n/a
Source: Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger. Circulation figures are
for the average sales of one issue during the fourth quarter of 2000. Ad
page figures cover the calendar year 2000.