Jo Elvin is hung over, but in high spirits. And deservedly so. The
launch editor of Conde Nast's mini fashion bible Glamour, she has just
had the official thumbs-up from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. After
its first six months in circulation, the magazine has climbed almost
right to the top of the women's magazine market, beaten only by The
National Magazine Company's Cosmopolitan.
The figures say it all really. Glamour stormed into the market six
months ago, supported by a £5 million ad campaign through J.
Walter Thompson. The title has achieved a monthly circulation of
451,486, a measly 690 copies behind Cosmopolitan.
Glamour has pinched some of those readers from its competitors in the
women's lifestyle market, many of which suffered losses in circulation
compared with the previous period. There were a few exceptions
Red clocked in with a period-on-period increase of more than 11 per
cent, and New Woman, Elvin's last home, enjoyed a 3.6 per cent rise in
sales compared with the previous six months. Yours and Vanity Fair also
showed significant rises.
However, She, Eve, Essentials, Company and Marie Claire all suffered
drops in sales. On the whole, the women's lifestyle magazine market
expanded over the past 12 months. It has grown by 17.8 per cent compared
with last year, and 12.7 per cent from the previous period, suggesting
that although Glamour has attracted some of its readers from other
titles, it has also targeted a whole new audience - typically women in
their mid-to-late twenties. Rather like Elvin herself?
She admits: "I think I am very close to a Glamour reader in the sense
that I spend a terribly disproportionate amount of time talking about
outfits and shoes."
Elvin, herself no stranger to the women's magazine market having worked
on Attic Futura's B and Sugar, didn't anticipate the success of the
"I was completely blown away by the enormity of the popularity and by
how quickly it's become popular, and our August and September issues are
selling phenomenally well. There doesn't appear to be any let up which
is, to me, fantastic. I'm blown away," she says.
Refreshingly, there is something wide-eyed and joyous about Elvin's
"I never thought it was going to be like this. We are all walking around
in a bit of a dream state. I would say I always knew it was going to be
successful but I don't think anybody expected it to be this runaway, top
of the heap hit it has been instantly. If we'd sold 250,000 for our
first ABCs I would have thought that was a phenomenal success,
particularly when you consider what else is going on in the market," she
There is some industry cynicism about how much of the magazine's launch
success was due to its two strongest novelty features: its miniature
handbag A5 size, and its cover price of £1.50. But Claudine
Collins, the press director at MediaCom, was reluctant to rain on
Elvin's parade. "It's a fantastic launch and you can't take that away
from them," she says.
Collins adds: "However, I think that the price and the size of the
magazine does have a lot to do with its success, and I don't think they
will sustain that circulation next period." She predicts that the next
round of figures will see Glamour's circulation even out at around
350,000 to 375,000.
Elvin is adamant that the magazine's price and size were not the only
reasons for its success. She says: "I really don't think that pricing a
magazine at £1.50 is enough in itself to make it a success. If
it's a bad magazine people won't buy it - consumers are a lot smarter
"I think what we've done is brought very chic upmarket values to the
middle market and I think we are the first magazine to package really
broad appeal lifestyle content in a very upmarket feeling form."
Despite industry expectations that these two strong selling points were
temporary, it appears that the magazine will remain small and, well,
cheap in the future. "That is our full price. It's a competitive price
and something the company has been able to do because of the size of the
magazine. If it goes up we're still in a position to stay
Gimmicky fluke or the embodiment of what women want, the future looks
bright for Glamour. This is surely not the last hangover for Conde
Nast's golden girl this month. And has success brought Elvin the
glamorous lifestyle revered by her readers? She chuckles wryly: "Ha ha.
THE ELVIN FILE
1990: Dolly magazine, feature writer
1992: Neighbours, publicist
1993: TV Hits, deputy editor
1994: Sugar, launch editor
1996: B, launch editor
1998: New Woman, editor
2000: Glamour, launch editor