The women's monthly lifestyle sector continues to be rocked by the waves from the seemingly unstoppable Glamour supertanker, which helped the sector record a 1.1 per cent rise in sales.
Conde Nast's title has a circulation 8.4 per cent higher than at the end of 2002.
Glamour's publishing director, Simon Kippin, pays tribute to its editor, Jo Elvin, and the team's ability to keep the editorial quality high. "The fact that (Cosmopolitan) copied our size but still hasn't added sales just proves my point that Glamour's success is about much more than price and format. The only secret is that we are delivering a magazine people want to read," Kippin says.
The former top seller Cosmopolitan slipped back again to 460,655. Jan Adcock, Cosmopolitan's group publishing director at The National Magazine Company, says that the magazine isn't trying to knock Glamour off its circulation perch. "It wouldn't be good business practice to do that," she says. "We'd have to spend loads on marketing and drop the cover price to try to beat Glamour's circulation and that would compromise our profitability. We have built solid, sustainable circulation and ad revenue and don't deliver our advertisers any less than before Glamour's launch."
NatMags has been conducting small-scale testing of a Glamour-style smaller format (internally dubbed TravelCosmo) in WH Smith's outlets in major railway stations and a national roll-out has been predicted for later this year.
Sales of NatMags' Company were static, despite a price drop from £2.80 to £1.80 outside London. But the publisher's Good Housekeeping figures were up 3.9 per cent over the six-month period.
The other big winner in the sector was H Bauer's fortnightly title Real, vindicating its formula of real-life stories produced with a newspaper editorial touch. The magazine's circulation reached 205,702 in the July to December period, racing ahead of Vogue, Elle, Red and She.
IPC experienced mixed fortunes in the sector - Marie Claire dropped by 9.8 per cent year on year, while its newer fashion title InStyle recorded a healthy rise.
Sandy Whetton, the IPC Southbank managing director, claims that scaling back on covermounting has hit Marie Claire's sales. "Marie Claire's sales have slipped as we've moved away from the crack cocaine of the publishing world: covermounting. We're still the advertising market leader and will continue to deliver a strong title to our advertising base," he says.
Katy Egan, the publishing director of InStyle, believes that the title has pulled in readers new to the sector, but has also hurt Hachette Filipacchi's Elle. But Elle's circulation grew 0.2 per cent over the second half of the year.
Hachette's B is set for a relaunch this year under a new editor, following a 14.1 per cent fall in circulation over the past year. But the company's Red magazine registered a healthy 3.6 per cent rise over the period. Hachette is researching European launch opportunities for the title.
Julie Harris, the general manager of Hachette Filipacchi's women's group, says: "Glamour has done brilliantly, but it's not a title that readers are going to want to live with for ten years. At some point, they will want to move on to something else and not necessarily a title that treats them as only being interested in home and children."
Emap's New Woman had a rollercoaster year, falling from 294,611 to 275,648 in the first half of 2003, but then adding 14,885 readers in the second half. Emap Elan's managing director, Dawn Bebe, puts the rise down to a repositioning of the title to make it a "more aspirational read". Emap also raised the level of marketing support for the title. "We're all up against the beast that is Glamour," Bebe says. "It and InStyle have upped the ante and we've all had to respond."
Verdict Expect the titles pitched at thirty-somethings (Red, Elle, Eve, InStyle) to continue to do well, reflecting the growing demographic, Claudine Collins, the press director at MediaCom, says. Those titles aimed at younger women need to establish more of a defined identity before they will gain ground back from Glamour.
TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period Year
on period on year
% change % change
Glamour Conde Nast 582,690 1.00 8.40
Cosmopolitan NatMags 460,655 -0.30 -0.50
Good Housekeeping NatMags 415,730 3.90 2.10
Yours Emap 403,696 4.40 6.00
Marie Claire IPC 360,789 -4.20 -9.80
Company NatMags 330,751 0.00 0.10
Prima NatMags 330,128 0.00 1.60
Candis Newhall 306,607 9.70 17.90
Woman & Home IPC 295,362 4.40 8.60
New Woman Emap 290,533 5.40 -1.40
Real H Bauer 205,702 13.80 27.60
Vogue Conde Nast 205,124 1.40 1.50
Elle (UK) Hachette Filipacchi 201,309 0.20 0.50
Red Hachette Filipacchi 196,719 3.60 2.50
She NatMags 190,033 2.40 3.80
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, July - December 2003.