Its editor, Gillian de Bono, says: "I find magazine retrospectives self-indulgent; they appeal more to journalists than to readers. We want to use our birthday to see how readers celebrate, because there is so much money spent in that area."
And readers of How to Spend It are not short of a bob or two. A 2003 Premier TGI study revealed FT readers spend £11,160,000 collectively on aftershave each year and £21,340,000 on skincare products. Ten per cent of FT readers across Europe own an art collection.
The magazine launched as a UK-only proposition but it is now distributed in Europe, Asia and New York in the US, with plans to expand this distribution to include Los Angeles and San Francisco.
De Bono describes a typical How to Spend It reader as "affluent, educated, discerning and influential", so editorial focuses on high fashion, the art world, exclusive holidays and expensive hobbies.
Twice a year it produces the extra supplements Passion for Fashion and Superior Interiors.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, How to Spend It has been flattered by other business titles eager to broaden their appeal to a more consumer-focused market, as well as soak up ad revenue from high-spending luxury brands. BusinessWeek launched FashionWeek last year, Time publishes Style and Design and The Wall Street Journal has Personal Journal.
Ben Hughes, the FT's global ad director, says: "Over the past three years, ad revenue has been hard to come by. While the luxury-goods sector has not exactly been recession-proof, advertisers have had money to spend."
Alex Randall, the head of press at Vizeum, compares How to Spend It with The Economist, which launched its own lifestyle annual, Intelligent Life, in June 2004. "How to Spend It enables very upmarket advertisers to hit affluent people without turning to contract publishing," Randall says.
Hughes believes what puts How to Spend It in a league of its own is the difference between reality and aspiration. "Where some people read this kind of magazine and think, 'it'd be nice to have that', FT readers think 'I'll go and get that'. These people have the money."
Title: How to Spend It
Publisher: Financial Times (Pearson)
Launched: November 1994
Circulation: FT's worldwide circulation for Mon-Sat = 437,156 copies
(January-June 2004 ABC)
Cover price: Weekend FT cover price = £1.20 (UK), 2.5 euros
(continental Europe), $1 (US), $20 Hong Kong/$3.50
Singapore/Y600 Japan (Asia)
Typical advertisers: Cartier, Dior, Burberry, Fendi, Tiffany, Prada,
Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer
Distribution: UK, continental Europe, Asia, US