MEDIA HEADLINER: The mini fashion bible taking on the big hitters and winning - The popularity of Glamour has surprised its editor, Jo Elvin

Jo Elvin is hung over, but in high spirits. And deservedly so. The

launch editor of Conde Nast's mini fashion bible Glamour, she has just

had the official thumbs-up from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. After

its first six months in circulation, the magazine has climbed almost

right to the top of the women's magazine market, beaten only by The

National Magazine Company's Cosmopolitan.



The figures say it all really. Glamour stormed into the market six

months ago, supported by a £5 million ad campaign through J.

Walter Thompson. The title has achieved a monthly circulation of

451,486, a measly 690 copies behind Cosmopolitan.



Glamour has pinched some of those readers from its competitors in the

women's lifestyle market, many of which suffered losses in circulation

compared with the previous period. There were a few exceptions

though.



Red clocked in with a period-on-period increase of more than 11 per

cent, and New Woman, Elvin's last home, enjoyed a 3.6 per cent rise in

sales compared with the previous six months. Yours and Vanity Fair also

showed significant rises.



However, She, Eve, Essentials, Company and Marie Claire all suffered

drops in sales. On the whole, the women's lifestyle magazine market

expanded over the past 12 months. It has grown by 17.8 per cent compared

with last year, and 12.7 per cent from the previous period, suggesting

that although Glamour has attracted some of its readers from other

titles, it has also targeted a whole new audience - typically women in

their mid-to-late twenties. Rather like Elvin herself?



She admits: "I think I am very close to a Glamour reader in the sense

that I spend a terribly disproportionate amount of time talking about

outfits and shoes."



Elvin, herself no stranger to the women's magazine market having worked

on Attic Futura's B and Sugar, didn't anticipate the success of the

launch.



"I was completely blown away by the enormity of the popularity and by

how quickly it's become popular, and our August and September issues are

selling phenomenally well. There doesn't appear to be any let up which

is, to me, fantastic. I'm blown away," she says.



Refreshingly, there is something wide-eyed and joyous about Elvin's

delight.



"I never thought it was going to be like this. We are all walking around

in a bit of a dream state. I would say I always knew it was going to be

successful but I don't think anybody expected it to be this runaway, top

of the heap hit it has been instantly. If we'd sold 250,000 for our

first ABCs I would have thought that was a phenomenal success,

particularly when you consider what else is going on in the market," she

says.



There is some industry cynicism about how much of the magazine's launch

success was due to its two strongest novelty features: its miniature

handbag A5 size, and its cover price of £1.50. But Claudine

Collins, the press director at MediaCom, was reluctant to rain on

Elvin's parade. "It's a fantastic launch and you can't take that away

from them," she says.



Collins adds: "However, I think that the price and the size of the

magazine does have a lot to do with its success, and I don't think they

will sustain that circulation next period." She predicts that the next

round of figures will see Glamour's circulation even out at around

350,000 to 375,000.



Elvin is adamant that the magazine's price and size were not the only

reasons for its success. She says: "I really don't think that pricing a

magazine at £1.50 is enough in itself to make it a success. If

it's a bad magazine people won't buy it - consumers are a lot smarter

than that.



"I think what we've done is brought very chic upmarket values to the

middle market and I think we are the first magazine to package really

broad appeal lifestyle content in a very upmarket feeling form."



Despite industry expectations that these two strong selling points were

temporary, it appears that the magazine will remain small and, well,

cheap in the future. "That is our full price. It's a competitive price

and something the company has been able to do because of the size of the

magazine. If it goes up we're still in a position to stay

competitive."



Gimmicky fluke or the embodiment of what women want, the future looks

bright for Glamour. This is surely not the last hangover for Conde

Nast's golden girl this month. And has success brought Elvin the

glamorous lifestyle revered by her readers? She chuckles wryly: "Ha ha.

Um, no."



THE ELVIN FILE

1990: Dolly magazine, feature writer

1992: Neighbours, publicist

1993: TV Hits, deputy editor

1994: Sugar, launch editor

1996: B, launch editor

1998: New Woman, editor

2000: Glamour, launch editor



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