ABC FIGURES: Celebs continue to drive women's weeklies

Heat's consecutive 100 per cent circulation increases for 2000 and 2001 showed some signs of slowing in the latest ABC results. Even so, the Emap title secured a massive 56.1 per cent circulation rise for 2002, taking its total sales to 554,644.

Northern & Shell's OK! also fared well, with a hefty year-on-year rise of 30 per cent, keeping it 2,579 copies ahead of its IPC rival Now. However, in terms of actively purchased copies, Now remains ahead of OK!, which counts 19 per cent of its circulation as bulk sales.

IPC Connect's managing director, Linda Genower, said: "So much competition is a tribute to the market's success. We're delighted with the performance of Now, and our strategy of adding value through our different spin-off sections, such as Now Celebrity Hair, is really paying off."

Both Emap, with Closer, and Northern & Shell with its title Wow! - set to launch this week - are following in IPC's footsteps by looking to build further on their position.

Chat saw a 15.6 per cent year-on-year increase to 552,800, beating Hello!'s 546,952. That's Life hung on between Now and Heat, with a 2.2 per cent rise over the year, taking it to a circulation of 597,170.

H Bauer's Take a Break kept its place at the top of the table, with a steady year-on-year increase of just under 5 per cent, a figure that most closely mirrored the 6.6 per cent growth across the entire sector. But although the magazine's 1.2 million circulation is hardly under pressure, it needs to address the past six months' stagnation in sales, which resulted in a small drop in circulation for the period.

IPC's Woman's Own rallied after a difficult first part of the year, turning a falling circulation into a small rise of 0.2 per cent for the year.

Verdict Consumers' passion for celebrities seems not to diminish, but brands should take heed from Now and look to diversify their core brands in order to stay on top of the market.

- Media Forum, p12


Title Publisher Total ABC Period on Year on

period % year %

Take a Break H Bauer 1,204,577 -0.2 4.9

Woman IPC 638,036 1.0 -1.3

OK! N&S 632,791 10.0 30.0

Now IPC 630,212 10.5 14.0

That's Life H Bauer 597,170 1.2 2.2

Heat Emap 554,644 15.8 56.1

Chat IPC 552,800 7.3 15.6

Hello! Hello 546,952 5.6 3.8

Woman's Own IPC 519,388 0.1 0.2

Woman's Weekly IPC 486,149 -2.4 -3.6

Bella H Bauer 427,885 -3.8 -8.8

Best NatMags 416,074 -2.0 -3.3

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (July-December 2002).