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
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
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
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
'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
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.