A tidal wave of bulk distribution overshadowed some genuinely
encouraging results in both halves of the women's weeklies sector.
The activity was most apparent in the celebrity battle between Hello!
and OK!, whose topline results showed a too-good-to-be-true set of
year-on-year and period-on- period increases. In fact, when wide-ranging
sampling and promotions with rival Sunday newspapers are discounted,
both titles show a period-on-period decline in actively purchased
The misleading nature of the result has led to many questioning the
ABC's decision not to apply its rule change on discounted copies
retrospectively to rule out single-penny promotional issues.
In terms of full rate sales, IPC's surging Now magazine in fact leads
the celebrity marketplace. "Now is our star achiever," IPC Connect's
managing director, Linda Lancaster-Gaye, said. "This is absolute
confirmation of its brand strength."
At just under half of Now's circulation, Heat still has some ground to
make up on its rival, but a repeat of last period's triple figure
year-on- year growth confirms that its challenge is hotting up.
Bulks also played a role in disguising IPC's own results in the
traditional weeklies. Woman would have suffered a period-on-period
decline were it not for the publisher's heavy sampling.
However, there is less need to question the dominant performances of H
Bauer's Take a Break and That's Life, which held their strong positions
without the need for any significant bulk sales. Bauer will have been
less encouraged by the performance of Bella, which suffered the sector's
Verdict The true test of Hello! and OK!'s bulks will come in the number
of full-price sales they can pick off from each other next time around.
Likewise, IPC will wait to see if more limited sampling will benefit its
traditional titles in a market still dominated by Bauer.
TITLE PUBLISHER TOTAL ABC Period on Year on
period % year
Take a Break H Bauer 1,166,591 2.5 -1.3
Hello! Hello! Ltd 842,723 67.6 83.7
Woman IPC 660,781 3.8 -4.3
OK! N&S 651,513 11.1 43.1
That's Life H Bauer 569,818 0.0 0.4
Woman's Own IPC 538,424 -2.8 -6.8
Now IPC 518,322 9.0 21.9
Woman's Weekly IPC 503,722 1.5 -3.8
Bella H Bauer 484,986 -9.0 -12.4
Chat IPC 466,422 -0.7 -2.3
Best NatMags 432,252 0.2 -5.2
Peoples Friend DC Thomson 401,817 0.6 -1.4
My Weekly DC Thomson 316,081 -0.7 -5.0
Heat Emap 235,450 36.6 147.5
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (Jan-June 2001).