Magazine ABCs Jan-June 2006: Women's Lifestyle

Sales in the women's lifestyle and fashion sector were flat, with market-leading titles such as The National Magazine Company's Cosmopolitan and Conde Nast's Glamour losing out to weeklies.

However, Simon Kippin, the publishing director of Glamour, is upbeat about the results. "We are delighted with Glamour's circulation figures and the gap between us and Cosmopolitan has widened," he says. "The monthly market has proved to be remarkably resilient despite a huge investment in weeklies."

Industry experts expect monthlies at the younger end of the market to revamp in an attempt to lure readers from weeklies. Jane Wolfson, the head of press at Initiative, says: "Readers don't have as much free time as they did so are turning to weeklies. Titles such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan will increase their celebrity content in an attempt to pull back their readers."

Despite the overall 1.6 per cent decline in the women's lifestyle and fashion market, Dawn Bebe, the managing director of Emap Elan, believes monthly magazines still have their place. "This is a time of transition for women's monthlies and there is definitely a high level of cross-purchase between them and weeklies," she says. "But a monthly is still a very different proposition. It's a treat, not fun, fast and disposable like a weekly can be."

Many well-established titles had a difficult time. This was especially true of IPC Media's Marie Claire. Richard Johnstone, the magazine's publishing director, admits it faces some serious challenges. However, the fightback began last week with the announcement that Marie Claire is to undergo a redesign in time for the October issue. "The monthly market has been tough over the past 12 months," Johnstone concedes. "But after four months of research, we are revamping the magazine, playing to its monthly strengths and the Marie Claire brand."

Fashion-focused titles performed better than their lifestyle counterparts. Conde Nast's Vogue recorded its ninth consecutive ABC increase and its highest circulation. Hachette Filipacchi's Elle and IPC Media's InStyle, which has just poached Red's editor, Trish Halpin, also increased their circulations slightly. Hachette's Red, which has replaced Halpin with the Cosmo editor, Sam Baker, and Elle put in solid performances.

IPC Southbank's monthly Essentials fell by a huge 37.6 per cent. The second biggest decline was for the fortnightly title Real, which dropped 21.4 per cent to 143,849 copies. It is published by Essential Publishing, which was bought by Hubert Burda in April.

Emap titles showed varying results, with Yours falling, but New Woman posting a small rise. More!, which has moved into the sector from the teen market, declined slightly.

Meanwhile, the weekly Grazia continued to shake up the glossy market 18 months after its launch. Following another set of positive figures, David Davis, the managing director of Grazia, says: "Grazia is delivering on its potential. Its steady and competent growth shows the magazine's team is making Grazia Britain's number-one magazine for upmarket women, with newsstand sales particularly strong. The key was converting glossy readers into weekly readers."

Titles aimed at older readers generally performed better than those at the younger end of the market. Conde Nast's Easy Living continued to increase sales, possibly at the expense of NatMags' Good Housekeeping.

Hachette's Psychologies hit its circulation target of 100,000 copies and Haymarket's Eve was a star performer, posting its eighth period of growth.

Verdict The relatively stable women's lifestyle market has suffered as a result of the increase in weekly celebrity and real-life magazines. Monthlies must refresh their content and relevance regularly to stay in touch with what their readers want.

TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on Year-on
-period -year
% chg % chg
Glamour Conde Nast 586,056 0.0 -3.9
Cosmopolitan NatMags 442,384 -4.2 -4.4
Good Housekeeping NatMags 441,151 -5.9 -7.3
Yours Emap 400,312 -5.0 -9.0
Marie Claire IPC 331,127 -10.9 -13.2
Woman & Home IPC 325,223 -3.2 -0.7
Prima NatMags 321,617 -3.0 -1.4
Candis Newhall 301,114 -3.7 -5.9
Company NatMags 275,038 -3.0 -9.0
More! Emap 271,999 -2.1 -1.3
New Woman Emap 231,785 0.3 -14.4
Red Hachette Filipacchi 221,940 1.0 1.3
Vogue Conde Nast 216,218 0.9 2.8
Elle (UK) Hachette Filipacchi 208,802 0.3 2.6
Easy Living Conde Nast 200,083 9.8 17.0
InStyle UK IPC 197,031 0.1 0.2
Grazia Emap 175,218* 2.6 12.9
Eve Haymarket 171,454 4.8 5.8
She NatMags 146,001 -6.8 -1.5
Real Essential 143,849 -21.4 -28.8
Source Audit Bureau of Circulations, January-June 2006 *per week.