After the first full year of sales, Nuts is the market leader but Zoo is hard on its heels after a 20 per cent circulation growth in the second half of 2004. Nuts couldn't sustain its early growth, losing 5.1 cent of its first-half sale in the second six months of the year.
Eric Fuller, the group publishing director of IPC ignite!, says: "At the start of 2004, we said we'd be happy with 200,000, so we are delighted to end the first year as the market leader with 275,000."
Both IPC and Emap continue to use heavy price promotion to support the titles. However, IPC is more reliant on this tactic, with an average 85,203 copies of Nuts sold at a lower rate against Zoo's 47,057.
Dharmash Mistry, the managing director of Emap Consumer Media, says: "We're pleased with Zoo's growth and that 55 per cent of its readers are ABC1. It's a great set of results and yes, of course, Zoo can become the market leader. First of all, though, this market has expanded and it will continue to grow. The competition between the two titles is healthy."
However, the closure of H Bauer's Cut late in the year showed publishers have to get the product right. Cut's round-up of weekly news and minimal nipple count didn't go down well.
The men's monthlies, with Loaded the exception, have defied expectation and held on to the majority of their readers despite the creation of the weekly market. Maxim leapfrogged Loaded to take second place in the men's monthly market behind Emap's FHM, its highest position in its ten-year history. Period on period, Maxim's actively purchased circulation increased from 211,050 to 217,225, but it also increased its distribution of bulk copies to 16,900.
Both FHM and Maxim increased their second half circulations after first-half declines as men sampled the weeklies. Maxim is about to invest in an advertising campaign in a bid to further increase its circulation.
Bruce Sandell, the group publishing director at Maxim's publisher, Dennis, says: "Our success is mainly down to Greg Gutfeld (Maxim's editor). It's about offering the comfortable architecture of a men's magazine with a more current sense of humour."
Sandell says he isn't surprised FHM and Maxim survived the launch of the men's weeklies intact: "Men now know the roles of the magazines and buy weeklies and monthlies for different reasons. Weeklies have turned out to be a really good complement to monthlies."
Loaded fared less well, losing 16 per cent of its circulation over the year. IPC is expected to relaunch it in May in a bid to return it to former glories.
Men's Health, the NatMag-Rodale title, had a strong year, increasing its circulation both period on period and year on year.
Conde Nast's GQ had a solid year while The National Magazine Company's Esquire and Emap's Arena both performed well. Arena's 9.2 per cent year-on-year growth will please fashion advertisers. Esquire boosted its circulation with an average of 21,876 bulks, a tactic not used by Arena.
The largest year-on-year sales increase among the monthly magazines was recorded by Haymarket's Stuff, which boosted its sales by 14.7 per cent.
Eddie Johnson, the publishing manager of Stuff, says the popularity of iPods, mobile phones, digital cameras and games consoles has helped: "Stuff reflects this reality and helps to keep consumers up to date with products in an accessible, non-geeky way."
Stuff's major competitor, T3, recorded a slight increase in circulation.
Verdict - Expect the men's weekly market to grow, with launches from IPC and Emap rivals likely. Lads' monthlies will continue to evolve through redesigns in a bid to differentiate themselves further from the weeklies.
TITLE Publisher Total ABC Period-on- Year-on-
% change % change
FHM Emap 580,027 1.1 -3.5
Nuts IPC 275,459 -5.1 n/a
Zoo Emap 240,215 20.0 n/a
Maxim Dennis 234,183 3.2 -3.8
Men's Health NatMag-Rodale 229,116 3.6 3.9
Loaded IPC 220,057 -6.4 -16.4
GQ Conde Nast 125,016 0.3 0.8
Bizarre Dennis 85,852 -1.7 -9.7
Front Highbury Cabal 84,093 -16.1 -18.5
Stuff Haymarket 74,570 6.2 14.7
Esquire NatMags 71,401 11.3 1.8
Men's Fitness Dennis 64,047 3.3 6.7
T3 Future 54,217 n/a 1.6
Focus Origin Publishing 53,270 2.0 4.4
Arena Emap 44,347 5.2 9.2