ABC Report: Customer Titles

Several magazines have dropped out, but the sector is still strong and growing over all. The landscape at the top of the customer magazine market has changed dramatically since the last period, with the loss of several key titles.

Safeway magazine, published by Redwood, was axed in line with the supermarket's new owner Morrison's marketing strategy, and the AA's publisher, Forward, has decided not to record a second set of ABCs for Near and Far and Q& as part of a review of the titles.

The other notable absentee, Ikea Rooms, produced by Highbury Cabal, has been withdrawn from the UK market after just one ABC figure as the furniture retailer aligns its marketing strategy across Europe.

Julia Hutchison, the director of the Association of Publishing Agencies, points out that while there are a number of reasons for the change in the table, ABC figures are only relevant for titles that carry third-party advertising.

"Magazines may not want to carry advertising from third parties because it can dilute their own marketing message," she says.

But despite the withdrawal of Safeway magazine, the retail sector is still growing. Asda Magazine, published by Publicis Blueprint, stole the show with a huge 21.9 per cent increase.

The title posted an ABC of 2,453,133 as a result of the retailer's expansion and a repositioning of the magazine. Its circulation is set to grow further as the chain has recently invested in fixed dispensers at checkouts rather than store entrances.

Sainsbury's: The Magazine, from New Crane, has a mostly actively purchased circulation. The title's sales grew 1 per cent over the year, and also featured in the top-100 actively purchased magazines, with a paid-for circulation of 279,231. However, in the past six months, its circulation fell by 13.4 per cent.

Waitrose Food Illustrated also has a paid-for model. It has a circulation of 261,359, up 4.3 per cent year on year, which is 50 per cent paid for and 50 per cent distributed to holders of the John Lewis card. Its continued success comes in the face of increased competition in the food market from the new entrants Delicious and Olive, which had been expected to put pressure on the magazine.

Boots Health & Beauty, published by Redwood, lost 1.9 per cent of its sale year on year, while the biggest fall among the supermarket titles was from Rare Publishing's The Somerfield Magazine, which dropped 16 per cent year on year.

Sky the Magazine, from John Brown Citrus Publishing, is still the UK title with the highest circulation. Its 6.6 million figure is more than double the size of its closest rival Asda Magazine, and reflects the growing number of subscribers to the BSkyB-owned satellite service.

O, another membership-based title, from the mobile giant Orange, has reduced its print run to reflect changes to its customer communications strategy. The magazine is sent out to its highest-paying customers. And Orange has increased the amount a customer has to spend to qualify.

Customer magazines continue to be popular among car manufacturers. BMW Magazine, published by Cedar Communications, saw a healthy growth of 2.1 per cent year on year to 258,069.

Jules Rastelli, Cedar's managing director, says that its ABC is crucial for advertisers because of the number of inserts it carries.

Vauxhall's VM magazine, which is published by Mediamark, still has the highest circulation among the car titles, despite falling 11.5 per cent over the year to 422,907.

In the travel market, High Life, also published by Cedar for British Airways customers, saw its circulation fall by 4.5 per cent year on year to 199,173, owing to increasing pressure on the airline from rivals.

Verdict Although some magazines have disappeared from the ABC report, this doesn't necessarily mean that they have been closed. However, it is a sign that some companies are taking the decision not to carry advertising, which will have an impact on ad revenues in the sector. The success among retail titles is likely to continue next period with the entry of a new Tesco magazine from Cedar and continued growth from Asda.

CUSTOMER MAGAZINES

TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period- Yr-on-yr

on-period % change

% change

Sky the Magazine JB Citrus 6,600,677 3.30 7.80

Asda Magazine Publicis Blueprint 2,453,133 8.20 21.90

Boots Health &

Beauty Redwood 1,834,270 1.70 -1.90

Saga Magazine Saga Group 1,244,002 0.30 0.40

O Magazine* JB Citrus 1,211,624 -14.80 -19.20

The Somerfield

Magazine Rare 1,130,743 -1.40 -16.00

O Magazine** JB Citrus 882,017 -16.50 -11.80

Homebase Ideas Publicis Blueprint 447,500 13.20 -10.00

VM The Vauxhall

Magazine Mediamark 422,907 -3.70 -11.50

The Garden RHS Publishing 332,033 1.60 6.40

Unlimited BBC Origin 330,520 -5.40 -5.40

Sainsbury's: The

Magazine New Crane 280,947 -13.40 1.00

Waitrose Food

Illustrated JB Citrus 261,359 1.70 4.30

BMW Magazine Cedar 258,069 -2.60 2.10

Heritage Today JB Citrus 225,539 0.30 6.90

The Renault

Magazine Brooklands 220,399 -1.80 -35.60

Hotline River 200,000 0.00 1.00

High Life Cedar 199,173 2.50 -4.50

NFPI Baby Book Redactive 150,100 n/a n/a

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, January-June 2004 *Pay monthly

edition ** Pay as you go edition.

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