CAMPAIGN REPORT ON GERMANY: Women worth fighting for - German publishers are ruthless about closing down new women's titles that don't attract enough readers, but launches still abound. Fiona Jebb reports

If there is one thing that women's magazine publishers in Germany

have learned, it is that consumers make snap decisions. 'People are

willing to try things but they very soon decide if they don't like it.

We used to accept a fall in competitiveness over six months - now

readers will drop something after two or three months,' says a

spokeswoman for the publisher Burda, which shut its weekly title Vivian

in December 2000, three months after launch.



Burda and its competitors, such as Gruner & Jahr and Bauer, have become

far more quick off the mark to close any new title which show signs of

failing.



Although Vivian achieved a circulation of around 130,000, this was far

short of the targeted 250,000. 'Advertising was not the problem,' the

Burda spokeswoman says. 'It was the lack of readers.'



This realisation has not prevented the huge and highly competitive

market for women's magazines seeing several launches over the past few

months.



One of the most significant has been the US export Glamour, launched by

Conde Nast in Germany at the same time as a British version hit the

news-stands. A Conde Nast spokeswoman describes the typical Glamour

reader as self confident and between 25 and 35 years old. She claims

that: 'The editorial concept of Glamour facilitates selective and fast

targeted information.



Glamour succeeds in pinpointing exactly the way that young people see

themselves, thereby gaining high credibility value.'



If they are not busy perusing Glamour, she continues, readers may be

found with Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Petra, Allegra or Amica.

Unsurprisingly, Conde Nast does not like the description in the UK press

of a typical Glamour reader as '15 per cent less grubby than the Cosmo

girl and 15 per cent less earnest than Marie Claire'.



The launch issue of the German Glamour was a hefty 280 pages (of which

100 were advertising), and Conde Nast printed 680,000 copies,

guaranteeing advertisers a circulation of at least 250,000.



Among readers and advertisers, views about the originality of the

magazine are mixed. 'They have really clinched a good deal with their

new product,' one enthusiast, Stephanie Kratz, an account assistant with

Ogilvy & Mather, says. 'People like it and it's sold for a really good

price - two Deutschmarks (65 pence). It has a bit of humour and

information about fashion. It's handy - you can put it in a bag. And the

design is colourful.'



With most analysts agreeing that consolidation will be required within

the sector, Gunnar Schauer, the managing director of Initiative Media,

thinks Glamour may have found a new approach to help it weather the

competition.



'Its cover price is very low for a high-class magazine. Maybe this will

be a new way to sell enough copies to get advertisers interested. But

(in content) it is nearly the same as Cosmopolitan.'



For critics, however, the only factor which differentiates Glamour from

the plethora of magazines already on sale is simply its size - smaller

than A4 and designed to fit in the average handbag. For some this is

seen as an insufficient USP.



'It's not much different from all the others,' Gisela Seedorf,

vice-managing director of MediaCom, claims. 'It's a different size and

the first ten or 20 pages give the impression of being different, with

stars and celebrities, but after that, it's more of the same'



'Moreover,' she adds, 'some advertisers don't like the size because it's

smaller.'



Glamour was beaten to the news-stands by Bauer's latest launch, Vida, in

January. With an initial print-run of 750, 000, the weekly magazine is a

very different offering. Aimed at a wide age range of readers from 20-

to 49-year-olds, Bauer describes the content of the new title as

'exciting and entertaining stories on celebrities, reports on current

issues and a multitude of service pages on health, wellness, career,

money and legal rights'. The important subjects of fashion, beauty,

travel and recipes round off the magazine.



The huge print-run and virtual lack of advertising (two pages) in the

56-page launch issue, combined with the low cover price of DM1.4, are

the reiteration of a formula which has worked well for German publishers

in the past - basically designed magazines printed on low quality paper

with high circulations.



This market, however, has now become so competitive that many wonder if

the tried and tested format will work once more. Certainly they argue

that the overall market will not grow and that, at best, publishers are

simply cannibalising their existing titles. 'There are so many like this

on the market that we do not think this is a success. 'It's the same

shade of green,' as we say in German,' Claude Glaeser, a media executive

with Zenith Media, says.



Glaeser is more optimistic about the chances for Burda's new title

Wellfit, the well-being magazine he sees as having identified a new

niche in the market among high-achieving 20- to 30-year-olds. He

believes the title, launched in January, is sufficiently different from

its three closest rivals - Fit for Fun, Vital and Shape - to stand a

good chance of success. Burda's medium-term target is for a circulation

of between 170,000 and 180,000 every month, and so far advertisers seem

to have bought into the new proposition. The 200-plus page launch issue

(slogan: 'Everything that's good for you' and priced at DM5) contained

more than 40 pages of advertising.



Given Vivian's fate, Burda will hope for a more encouraging prognosis

for Wellfit. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that Germany's publishers

are playing a high-risk game, where those that are most nimble on their

feet will emerge victorious.



TOP SELLING WOMEN'S TITLES

Title Frequency Circulation % diff- Ad pages % diff-

sold erence erence

yr on yr yr on yr

Bild der Frau Wkly 1,662,502 -1.0 1,463.8 -0.8

Neue Post Wkly 1,278,012 -0.6 701.8 20.8

Freizeit Revue Wkly 1,060,297 -2.3 965.7 -5.0

Tina Wkly 1,017,494 -4.1 1,210.1 0

Das Neue Blatt Wkly 1,002,051 -3.6 665.7 22.2

Brigitte Bi-wkly 958,258 3.4 2,665.6 -3.1

Frau und Mutter Mthly 714,426 n/a n/a n/a

Frau im Spiegel Wkly 645,129 -3.1 696.3 -9.4

Freundin Bi-wkly 604,823 2.4 2,832.5 1.5

Fur Sie Bi-wkly 572,159 -6.1 2,369.9 -4.0

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.



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