Janet Izatt reviews a year in which the rise of men’s titles, epitomised by the success of Loaded, left women’s magazines casting around for reasons to explain their readership losses

Janet Izatt reviews a year in which the rise of men’s titles, epitomised

by the success of Loaded, left women’s magazines casting around for

reasons to explain their readership losses

Car Magazines

The car industry has breathed a sigh of relief now that Emap’s Carweek

has been laid to rest. Emap pulled the plug on the 18-month-old title

last year, after a number of relaunches which failed to impress readers

and cost the company an estimated pounds 7 million.

Emap blamed the failure on the format and ‘market conditions’.

Undeterred, Emap are currently planning another car launch. Although its

demise appears to have helped Haymarket’s Autocar, there is still

speculation that the market is overcrowded.

Certainly the arrival of contract magazines for car manufacturers isn’t

helping. Ford’s quarterly magazine now has an ABC of 741,578 and Land

Rover’s Owners’ International has a sizeable ABC.

Opinion is now divided on whether Perry Motorpress’s Complete Car,

launched in February 1994 on the back of its success in Germany, can

survive. It has dropped period on period to 40,089.

Emap, meanwhile, has made up for its misfortune with Carweek with

dynamic growth on its three-year-old boy-racer title, Maxpower, which

has a growth rate that nearly matches Loaded’s phenomenal success. BBC’s

Top Gear, launched in September 1993, continues to build sales on the

back of its successful weekly TV show, which pulls in an audience of

around five million viewers.

Top Gear breaks the car magazine mould of running ‘exclusive’ grainy,

monochrome photos of cars on test circuits and provides accessible

features that appeal to a wide audience.

The rest of the year is unlikely to see too many launches. The market

is considered overcrowded. The closest it may get is banded-on

supplements. Watch out for Conde Nast - it has its sights set on luring

car clients into its women’s titles on the back of research it conducted

earlier this year which showed that women remain a major untapped market

for car advertisers. Banded-on car supplements are a likely bet here.

Home Interest magazines

The question here is how the BBC boosted sales of its three-year-old BBC

Homes and Antiques when sales figures in the rest of the sector made

such grim reading.

The increase is even more impressive when the high overseas sales

figures are stripped from its rivals. This would put BBC in third place

behind Country Living and Homes and Gardens. Having BBC on the cover

undoubtedly helps - a fact that isn’t lost on other publishers who

seethe about their inability to get their magazines on to TV. While the

BBC doesn’t have an eponymous programme to match the magazine, it does

have the successful Antiques Roadshow and Great Antiques Hunt to hang

trailers on.

With the exception of the BBC, the rest of the home interest ABCs are

pretty dismal. Some publishers believe that the DIY ‘improve, don’t

move’ market, which grew when the housing market slumped, may have

reached a plateau, leading to a tail- off in sales.

There is also competition from a growing range of contract titles, such

as Dulux Colours through Redwood Publishing, women’s monthlies such as

Marie Claire, which carries the Habitat catalogue, and other glossy

store catalogues such as Ikea’s, that present themselves as magazines.

From a punter’s point of view, the fall in sales isn’t surprising given

the overall similarity of the magazines in the sector, right down to

their names, something which must make building loyalty a nightmare.

IPC, which has taken a battering in this sector, cut its losses on the

28-year-old Living in November, after its sales for January to June 1995

fell 21.7 per cent year on year to 111,328. It merged Living with its

relaunched Woman and Home. Further mergers in this sector could be on

the cards.

One interesting title is Emap’s Elle Decoration, which started as a

supplement to Elle. It certainly stands out in shops with its fresh,

distinctive look aimed at younger readers. It only shifts 61,017 copies,

but its sales were up a respectable 8.12 per cent.

Listings magazines

Life hasn’t been easy in the deregulated listings market, particularly

for What’s on TV and Radio Times.

They are still facing an uphill battle against the ever-increasing range

of listings in newspapers, but on the whole, the big players performed

well by hanging on to their sales, and the market seems to have settled

down with only minor movement between the key players. Radio Times and

What’s on TV have been hitting back with more features-led content aimed

respectively at the ABC1 market and the family. Strong helpings of Delia

Smith and Jancis Robinson and increased pagination helped keep Radio

Times’ sales stable.

Bauer’s TV Quick has carved out a strong niche by targeting women with

the more gossipy articles about TV and is still reaping the benefits

with year-on-year growth more than double last year’s rate.

The real success has been on the satellite listings titles. IPC’s TV and

Satellite Week, launched in 1993, continued to do well in 1995.

Meanwhile Sky, the Redwood-published contract title, continues to power

ahead on the back of new satellite subscriptions.

This year sees Granada launch at least eight channels through its joint

venture with BSkyB, Channel 5 begins broadcasting in 1997, and new cable

and satellite channels are constantly launching. Watch to see Radio

Times bites the bullet and increases pagination to include comprehensive

cable and satellite listings or whether it, like IPC, opts for a

separate title. Apparently discussions at the Beeb are already


Men’s magazines

There seems little to worry about in the men’s market, with penetration

of the market standing at a low 7 per cent for men aged 18 to 44,

suggesting room for growth.

The big question for the sector is just how far can Loaded go? IPC is

confident it will easily reach the 200,000 mark, but even it seems fazed

by its phenomenal success, and steers clear of capping its potential


FHM has also recorded stunning growth. It attributes its success to

treating its male readers like women; that is, giving them information

that will help them make decisions about their lifestyles.

Esquire, the only men’s magazine to have lost sales, regards its decline

as strategic and the NatMags publisher, John Wisbey, rules out any

revision of the magazine’s editorial environment to try to grab a slice

of Loaded’s success.

Who would have thought the new breed of men’s health and fitness

magazines, Men’s Health and Maxim, would have done so well? Step forward

all those media planners who said they wouldn’t catch on. But the

sceptics weren’t completely wrong. XL, the third health and fitness

titles to launch, has struggled to stay in the race and publisher

Stonehart has sold it to Affinity, after touting it around at what

publishers said was an outrageous price for its circulation of little

more than 60,000.

For the future, look out for whether men’s magazines ape women’s titles

in carrying banded-on special-interest supplements which become stand-

alone titles.

Monthly Practicals magazines

Caught between the women’s monthly fashion and home interest titles, the

monthly practicals found last year tough going. And there are pretty

clear signs that home interest titles plan to encroach even further on

to the practicals’ turf.

The IPC title, Ideal Home, poached Good Housekeeping’s Sally O’Sullivan

to oversee the revamp of the magazine as a more general interest title,

a clear sign of things to come in the home interest sector, which will

make life even more of an uphill battle for the practicals.

With the fashion glossies also making inroads into the practicals market

and with the growth of cookery and home-decoration pages and supplements

- such as Elle Decoration - the practicals are finding their corner of

the market squeezed.

The rise of contract magazines by all the big supermarkets, such as the

hugely successful Sainsbury’s: The Magazine, has further increased

competition. It has also undercut rivals with its cheaper cover price

and its prominent position in the stores.The practicals’ market

continues to suffer from Tesco’s checkout policy which has removed

magazines from their prime position next to the cash registers.

One publisher also feels that the growing number of television

practicals programmes could be seen by some potential readers as a

replacement for their magazines.

Cover price increases will also have affected this sector, regarded as

more price sensitive than the glossy fashion monthlies.

Music magazines

The music market is looking pretty buoyant despite some turbulence in

the ABC figures.

Emap’s Select, positioned as the magazine with street cred for 15- to

24-year-olds, is certainly trouncing IPC’s Vox, which appears to have

lost its way.

Select manages to cater for eclectic tastes which allows it to bring in

new readers and then hold them as their preferences in music change.

Still, IPC has faired better with its big brand names Melody Maker and

NME. Its dance music title, Muzik, launched in May last year, came in

slightly above its guaranteed circulation of 35,000.

During 1995, the market leader, Q, saw off competition from Haymarket,

which bowed out of the music market in July last year when it closed its

Virgin Radio-linked music title, Encore, aimed at 20- to 30-year-olds,

after just one issue.

But Encore’s demise hasn’t deterred other newcomers to the market. The

US publisher, Ray Gun, teamed up with MTV Europe in March this year to

launch the youth culture and lifestyle magazine, Blah Blah Blah. Aimed

at 18- to 25-year-olds, the magazine will rely on its behind-the-scenes

access to MTV Europe.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the music spectrum, the classical music

scene has also seen increased competition, but the BBC Music Magazine

outsells its rivals.

For the rest of the year, a greater fragmentation of the music market

with more niche - rather than mass-market titles appearing - seems



The football sector has seen fairly hectic launch activity in the last

year, resulting in a mixed bag of results.

Emap passed a significant milestone in 1995, with Match achieving the

200,000 mark for the first time in its 15-year history.

With the European Championships looming, Emap is confident it can push

sales of Match sales even higher. Emap’s two titles, Match and Big

Shots, with the exception of Manchester United FC’s magazine, were part

of a minority of top ten sports titles to put on sales. Now it is

concentrating on new launch, Total Sport, under former Q editor, Danny

Kelly, the first assault on the general interest sports sector for

nearly a year.

Meanwhile, Haymarket’s 1994 launch, Four Four Two, recorded the biggest

increase of a football title - up 25 per cent period on period to

83,703, well in excess of its initial target of 45- to 50,000. Its

strong growth has helped silence critics who thought it too upmarket.

IPC’s soccer titles had mixed results. Sales of 90 Minutes, Soccer Stars

and World Soccer fell quite dramatically. However, the newly launched

Goal leapt into the top ten with its first four months publisher’s


Future Publishing made a bold move away from its traditional core of

computer publishing into sports publishing with the launch of two sports

titles - First XV (rugby) and Total Football.

A quick look at other sports areas show that the crowded golf market is

still struggling, with circulations across the sector continuing to


Women’s Monthlies

A round of cover-price increases across this sector didn’t help the

pretty unexciting results, nor did continuing economic uncertainty

which, publishers believe, makes readers less likely to treat themselves

to a monthly.

A lack of launches in the sector and a lack of advertising for existing

titles, which tends to stimulate shoppers into browsing, could also be

partly to blame.

Then, of course, there is the increasingly promiscuous purchasing habits

of readers, who are likely to be tempted by cover lines rather than a

brand name.

The National Magazine Company may still hold the number one spot in the

market with Cosmopolitan, but sales of three of its glossies dipped with

only Harpers and Queen putting on sales.

A major turnover of editors at NatMags didn’t help. Cosmo’s editor,

Marcelle D’Argy Smith, was replaced by Mandi Norwood, the editor of its

sister title, Company, and She’s editor, Linda Kelsey, also left.

Although the market seems static, publishers believe that, with only 20

per cent penetration of the women’s market, there is room for future

sales increases. NatMags cracked on cautiously with two new projects

last year - the launch of a beauty and fitness title, Zest, which goes

monthly from April, and the biennial She Magazine’s, Having a Baby, both

of which started life as banded-on supplements in late 1994, on

Cosmopolitan and She respectively.

IPC had considerably more joy in this market than with its weeklies,

with Marie Claire continuing to close the gap on Cosmopolitan from

29,960 copies in 1994 to just 3,873 in 1995.

Women’s weeklies

Almost every excuse you can think of has been trotted out recently to

justify the bleak state of the women’s weeklies market, but National

Lottery scratchcards have taken most of the flack for falling sales

Certainly, IPC, the market leader in this sector, attributes the poor

performance of its weeklies portfolio to scratchcards. A study carried

out by IPC over a 13-week period following the introduction of

scratchcards showed that sales certainly did taper off before picking up


With women having to make their budgets go further to cover the cost of

a scratch, dual purchasing has dropped off and women, publishers

believe, are switching between magazines. Chat, IPC’s only title in this

sector to put on respectable growth, was strangely unaffected by the

scratchcard fever.

Bauer has also had mixed fortunes. Although its new title, That’s Life,

is obviously a hit, the downside is that it appears to have cannibalised

sales of its sister title, Bella, more than rival IPC titles. Bella

clocked up the biggest sales fall in the weeklies sector, dropping a

whopping 15 per cent.

It will interesting to see how Hello!, which boosted its sales by nearly

4 per cent, fares in the next round of ABCs when it will be competing

head to head with Northern and Shell’s OK!, which has switched from

monthly to a weekly frequency. By this time next year, both Hello! and

OK! could be sharing the market with a third competitor if G&J’s

celebrity gossip title, currently in development, makes it from the

drawing board to the newsstands.

Youth magazines

This is one of the most challenging markets to be in, with trends

changing all the time.

The dynamic publisher, Attic Futura, took the youth market by storm last

year with its 15-month-old Sugar proving it had its finger well and

truly on the pulse of the teenage nation. Emap’s It’s Bliss wasn’t far

behind Sugar and bounded into third place with its first ABC.

Emap’s More! continues to be a hit with figures showing that the

magazine is holding on to its readers for longer - even up until they

are 22-years-old. Consequently, it was unaffected by the launch of It’s

Bliss and Sugar, which are aimed at 14- to 16-year-olds and 13- to 17-

years-olds respectively.

The same can’t be said for Emap’s other titles. It has a problem on its

hands with Smash Hits and Just 17, and editorial facelifts have been

booked for both titles.

Smash Hits, which just can’t seem to stop its sales slide, certainly

won’t have been helped by BBC Magazines’ launch of Top of the Pops in

March last year which brought in a first ABC of 121,223.

The youth market has seen some fragmentation over the past year, with

the BBC beavering away at developing a new niche - the younger, ‘no

boys’ end of the market. Its fortnightly titles, Chatterbox and Girl

Talk, both launched in March1995 and pulled in sales of 86,418 and

80,044 respectively.

The big issue for the rest of the year will be whether the Tory MP,

Peter Luff, gets his way in ensuring publishers put a minimum age on the

cover of teen magazines.


Car magazines


Magazine                Publisher            ABC        Year on

                                          Jun-Dec 95    year %


Maxpower                Emap                160,461      42.9

BBC Top Gear            BBC Magazines       150,616         9

What Car?               Haymarket           145,759      14.7

Car                     Emap                112,180       n/a

Classic and Sportscar   Haymarket            93,772       7.2

Auto Express            Express Newspapers   83,066       n/a

Autocar                 Haymarket            80,123       9.5

Classic Cars            IPC                  78,844       4.1

Autosport               Haymarket            68,515       7.1

Practical Classics      Emap                 63,675      -9.1



Home interest magazines


Magazine                         Publisher           ABC        Year on

                                                  Jun-Dec 95    year %


House Beautiful                  NatMags            326,831        0.3

Homes and Ideas                  IPC                233,920        -18

Ideal Home                       IPC                187,310      -13.2

Country Living                   NatMags            180,223       -5.5

House and Garden                 Conde Nast         161,218        0.8

Homes and Gardens                IPC                159,358      -13.2

BBC Homes and Antiques           BBC Magazines      127,082         18

Country Homes and Interiors      IPC                115,014      -10.4

Home and Country                 Womens Institute    81,112       -7.6

Perfect Home                     DMG                 75,390        -26



Listings magazines


Magazine                    Publisher          ABC         Year on

                                          Jul-Dec 1995     year %


What’s on TV                IPC             1,629,133        -0.2

Radio Times                 BBC Magazines   1,464,392        0.03

TV Times                    IPC             1,007,964        -0.7

TV Quick                    Bauer             781,308         7.4

Cable Guide                 Cable Guide       470,891          34

TV and Satellite Week       IPC               190,563         6.4

Time Out                    Time Out          110,173         2.2



Men’s magazines


Magazine          Publisher         ABC           Year on

                               Jul-Dec 1995       year %


Loaded            IPC             174,763          82.5

GQ                Conde Nast      128,722             2

Men’s Health      Rodale Press    120,371           n/a

FHM               Emap            115,034          41.8

The Face          Wagadon         112,388          10.6

Esquire           NatMags         106,140            -4

Maxim             Dennis           98,067            25

Arena             Wagadon          84,802           1.9



Monthly Practicals magazines


Magazine                      Publisher       ABC         Year on

                                          Jul-Dec 1995    year %


Prima                         G & J (UK)     550,692        -11

Good Housekeeping             NatMags        488,243       -5.8

Woman and Home                IPC            417,119       -4.2

Essentials                    IPC            328,528        -14

Family Circle                 IPC            296,418       -5.4

Sainsbury’s: The Magazine     New Crane      337,056        7.9



Music magazines


Magazine              Publisher         ABC        Year on

                                   Jul-Dec 1995    year %


Smash Hits            Emap            244,743       -19.04

Q                     Emap            208,462          2.9

NME                   IPC             117,169            3

Select                Emap            112,645         19.4

Vox                   IPC              94,505        -15.9

BBC Music Magazine    BBC Magazines    66,108          0.7

Gramophone            Gramophone       58,842*       -8.62

Melody Maker          IPC              58,486         -3.5

Mojo                  Emap             53,147         17.5

Gramophone’s ABC changed to be recorded annually from Jan-Dec 1995



Magazine              Publisher               ABC         Year on

                                          Jul-Dec 1995    year %


Match                 Emap                  200,082          7.9

Shoot                 IPC                   145,625         -9.2

Manchester United     Manchester Utd FC     115,095          8.5

Soccer Stars          IPC                    90,091          -13

Four Four Two         Haymarket              83,703           25

Golf World            Emap                   81,511         -3.2

Big Shots             Emap                   75,559          7.8

Golf Monthly          IPC                    72,638         -4.3

90 Minutes            IPC                    68,961        -14.9

Goal                  IPC                    60,868          n/a

Today’s Golfer        Emap                   58,514        -24.1



Women’s Monthlies


Magazine             Publisher        ABC         Year on

                                  Jul-Dec 1995    year %


Cosmopolitan         NatMags        456,394         -0.9

Marie Claire         IPC            452,521          5.1

Company              NatMags        290,081         -5.1

New Woman            Emap           263,464          2.5

She                  NatMags        252,046        -10.3

Elle                 Emap           205,511          -11

Vogue                Conde Nast     188,669          1.1

Options              IPC            161,312          1.9

Woman’s Journal      IPC            157,411            0

Harpers and Queen    NatMags         90,201          5.6



Women’s  weeklies


Magazine           Publisher         ABC        Year on

                                Jul-Dec 1995    year %


Take a Break       Bauer         1,458,950         -3

Bella              Bauer           831,596        -15

Woman              IPC             800,099         -1

Woman’s Own        IPC             761,024       -4.3

Woman’s Weekly     IPC             754,110       -5.5

Chat               IPC             572,055        5.7

Best               G & J           565,388        0.2

Hello!             Hello           494,803        3.8

That’s Life        Bauer           480,218        n/a

People’s Friend    DC Thomson      467,109       -2.6

Titles published by H Bauer are not in membership of ABC, but the

publisher has issued audited statements for the above Bauer magazines



Youth magazines


Magazine             Publisher          ABC         Year on

                                    Jul-Dec 1995    year %


More!                Emap              427,413        3.22

Sugar                Attic Futura      318,053          21

It’s Bliss           Emap              262,633         n/a

Looks                Emap              221,480          -2

19                   IPC               216,959         6.8

TV Hits              Attic Futura      192,034           4

Big                  Emap              190,124       -32.2

Mizz                 IPC               185,878        -4.8

Just 17              Emap              185,081         -31

Sky                  Emap              161,670         4.2