There is a bulge in women's handbags across Europe. Glamour, the style magazine that has taken the UK market by storm, is conquering Europe and being copied by rivals everywhere. The simple idea of a portable magazine with a lower price has given its publisher, Conde Nast, much to smile about.
Although Glamour was originally a US title, it is thanks to its Italian cousin that is has found a comfortable market niche in which to flourish.
Italy first launched Glamour in 1995, but it bore very little resemblance to what it represents today. It was founded in the ashes of Per Lei (meaning "for her"), which was ailing in the Italian market. Glamour did not perform so well at first either, so Conde Nast Italy did some research into its size and price.
In 1998, a smaller format was tested and the price was reduced. Massimo Perrino, Conde Nast Italy's vice-president of consumer marketing, explains: "It worked very well and we had a three-fold increase in sales in the areas where we reduced the size, so we understood that this was the breakthrough we needed." In January 2000, Glamour in Italy became handbag-sized. In the glossies market last year, it was the biggest circulating title with an average sale of 260,600 copies a month and it has grown by almost 9 per cent in the past year.
Perrino believes three main factors have assured Glamour's success: "We have been working through market research on improving our content and monitoring to check if our changes were appreciated by readers, so we ended up with the best editorial mix. Then there is the advantage of the smaller size. Thirdly, the price makes it much more appealing to a broader audience."
Since the revelation in Italy, Glamour has launched in the UK, Germany, Greece. Spain and Poland, where it has been equally successful. In Germany, after initially launching as a monthly title in 2001, the magazine increased its frequency to fortnightly in March this year. Conde Nast Germany was still a fairly small company when Glamour first launched and it felt that it would be too risky to go fortnightly immediately. However, the company soon realised it had hit the right note.
Bernd Runge, the managing director of Conde Nast Germany, says: "We had immediate success, but everyone began to copy us. There were six pocket magazines - some new, some relaunched - within a year-and-a-half of our launch."
Today, Glamour in Germany sells around 450,000 copies every fortnight making it a significant force in the marketplace. It has also been one of the most successful launches in Spanish publishing history, knocking the market leader, Cosmopolitan, from its top perch just three days after launch. The launch issue sold 427,000 on newsstands, compared with Cosmopolitan's six-month average from January to June of 182,000.
Given how many magazines across Europe have scrambled to copy the concept of a handbag-sized magazine, one has to question whether Glamour's success is based on its size alone. James Woolhouse, the director of planning for Conde Nast International and the president of Conde Nast Asia-Pacific, disagrees. "Of course the size and the price have made it stand out in the market, and this positioning corresponds to the needs and expectations of these women. The marketing of the magazine has been crucial - on TV, point of sale and with the newstrade. In the end, though, a magazine stands or falls on its editorial strengths."
Kim Ywanczyszym, a group media manager at MediaCom, believes Glamour has kicked the arrogance of other titles into touch. She believes it broke the mould of magazines, a sector that needed to be shaken up, and understood the idea that women can buy from the high street and accessorise their wardrobe with the odd designer number. She adds: "The format opened itself up to trial, and that's what it has rolled out in different countries. There are few people who read only Glamour, they read it along with other titles."
Talking to publishers in different European countries, it is clear that this fresh editorial tone is something that has worked everywhere, although no international template has been set. Editions launch next year in Russia, France and South Africa and there are discussions about launching in the Czech Republic and Asia.
Despite a growing global presence, Conde Nast has no plans to introduce an advertising package for Glamour which could embrace all of its markets.
Woolhouse says: "There isn't a large amount of evidence to suggest advertisers want this. They tend to operate locally and they value the local one-to-one relationships that we can offer."
TITLE CIRCULATION DATE
Glamour 260,600 2002
Cosmopolitan 202,600 2002
Elle 151,400 2002
Marie Claire 134,200 2002
Glamour 277,600 Jan-Jun 03
Cosmopolitan 187,200 July-Dec 02
Elle 138,700 July-Dec 02
Marie Claire 107,500 July-Dec 02
Glamour 539,100 Jan-Jun 03
Joy 490,200 Jan-Jun 03
Cosmopolitan 351,400 Jan-Jun 03
Petra 278,000 Jan-Jun 03
Amica 260,700 Jan-Jun 03
Allegra 233,800 Jan-Jun 03
Cosmopolitan 89,400 Jan-May 03
Glamour 72,500 Jan-May 03
Glamour 336,800 Jan-Jun 03
Twoj Styl 272,500 Jan-Jun 03
Cosmopolitan 120,900 Jan-Jun 03
Elle 103,900 Jan-Jun 03
Pani 69,500 Jan-Jun 03
Uroda 65,800 Jan-Jun 03