CAMPAIGN REPORT ON TOP MAGAZINES: The changing face of top magazines - The lad-mag boom might be past its peak, but a flurry of launches from publishers both old and new shows that there are other markets emerging for glossies. Anna Griffiths reports

This supplement aims to put the top 100 magazines into context and draw attention to the highs, lows and future development of a market which has seen explosive growth over the past few years. The magazine market is all too frequently referred to dismissively as ’overcrowded’, but while some sectors appear to be stagnating, there are many new titles tumbling into the frame, hoping to enliven a market which, on the whole, is looking a bit tired.

This supplement aims to put the top 100 magazines into context and

draw attention to the highs, lows and future development of a market

which has seen explosive growth over the past few years. The magazine

market is all too frequently referred to dismissively as ’overcrowded’,

but while some sectors appear to be stagnating, there are many new

titles tumbling into the frame, hoping to enliven a market which, on the

whole, is looking a bit tired.



The six-monthly magazine ABCs are seized upon by agencies, clients and,

of course, publishing houses, with excitement, dread and anticipation

because they clearly indicate what’s hot and what’s distinctly cooling

down. NRS continues to be a vital currency in terms of showing people’s

reading habits, and is enhanced by QRS. But for agencies, ABCs are a

crucial tool for negotiation.



That’s after you’ve taken into account how many people have shelled-out

the money for their favourite magazines, rather than being handed them

to read on a plane or as they struggle with their shopping. The number

of customer magazines in the top 100 is snowballing. About half of the

top 20 now fall into this category.



The amount of launch activity across the board shows a level of

confidence among publishers, despite much handwringing about a

recession. New companies have sprung up, from Sally O’Sullivan’s Cabal

Communications, which burst on to the scene with a promise of publishing

12 magazines by the end of its first year, to Mollin Publishing, which

will kick off this spring with the launch of two health and fitness

titles.



Looking at specific magazine sectors, some titles have succeeded in

their promise to bring innovation and greater competition to a market,

while others have made little impact. In the women’s monthly market we

witnessed the much-hyped launch of Emap Elan’s Red, the magazine for

thirtysomething women, which followed hot on the heels of Wagadon’s

first women’s title, Frank. While Red has secured a respectable hold in

the marketplace, with a slight hiccup in its second ABC audit, Frank has

unfortunately floundered and looks decidedly on the wane.



Publishers seem to be pouring into the market for health and fitness

titles, encouraged by soaring sales of upmarket titles such as Rodale

Press’s Men’s Health and Zest, while acknowledging people’s growing

obsession with staying young. Admittedly, Conde Nast’s GQ Active has

been folded into GQ, while Emap Metro’s XL disappeared altogether, but

somewhere between the mid and top magazine market sectors, many

opportunities have been seen.



The homes and gardens market is flourishing, with BBC Magazines, IPC,

G+J and Cabal all furiously peddling their new titles which have

performed well in the market. However, with so many titles vying for the

consumer’s attention, this is a sector which will surely see some

casualties - there is, after all, a limit to how many home/gardening

magazines and dedicated TV programmes that you can look at.



While the overall health of the lad-magazine market looks decidedly

jaded compared to the phenomenal growth shown in previous ABC audits, it

would be short-sighted to say that this is the end of an era for men’s

magazines. There are other sectors within the men’s market which are

taking off. As previously mentioned, Men’s Health is booming, while the

rather less edifying Bizarre from John Brown Publishing is thriving and

close to reaching 100,000 in sales.



The men’s magazine market is certain to ape the mature women’s magazine

market, with a few market niches exploding into lots of different

sectors.



This has already begun - IPC recently announced it would launch Later, a

magazine for men who have grown out of Loaded, Maxim, FHM and, for the

moment, GQ.



Much of the glory in circulation terms belongs to the younger companies

such as Future Publishing, with Essential PlayStation and PlayStation

Power being the two fastest growing consumer titles.



The IT market is always a lucrative place for publishers who can

successfully ride the wave of new technology.



A potential growth area that prescient publishers and advertisers can

exploit is the market for wrinklies (ie 50-year-olds and over). Saga

Magazine is now the eleventh biggest title with an ABC of almost one

million. While Woman’s Journal and Good Housekeeping have been fiddling

around trying unsuccessfully to broaden their appeal to a younger

audience, there is an affluent, opinionated audience who are getting

their fix from newspapers, rather than magazines. With publishers so

keen to find a replacement for the lad-mag boom, it’s surely time to

cash in on this older market which is crying out for a glossy magazine

injection.



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