Condé Nast suffers biggest audience decline as magazine market drops 6%

Vogue: owner Conde Nast's titles are down 8.9% year on year
Vogue: owner Conde Nast's titles are down 8.9% year on year

Condé Nast saw the biggest circulation falls out of the major magazine publishers, reporting its titles down 8.9% year on year.

The fall in Condé Nast’s titles has been largely driven by Glamour’s circulation plummeting by 26% year on year to 260,422 (print and online).

The latest consumer magazine ABC figures for the six months to the end of December show the consumer magazine market is down 5.6% year on year.

However, this figure drops to 8% when taking the main advertiser categories into account and stripping out contract magazines such as supermarkets’ in-store titles.

Dave Mulrenan, joint head of trading at Zenith, said Condé Nast had recognised Glamour had a problem when it announced in November it would relaunch the magazine in a bigger "luxury" format.

Mulrenan said: "The previous format was meant to fit into your handbag, but a mobile fits into your handbag so why do you need a magazine to do that too? How the bigger version does we’ll wait and see, but the first issue didn’t blow me away."

Vogue performed better for Condé Nast, holding steady at 195,083 year on year, with UK subscriptions up 2.3% period on period. Condé Nast’s flagship men’s magazine, GQ, was down 3.7 year on year to 95,024 – with about two-thirds of its print circulation actively paid for.

Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast Britain, said: "For the sixth period in succession, we see the luxury print sector holding pleasingly steady, at a time when our digital audience is growing exponentially."

Time Inc fared almost as badly as Condé Nast, as its titles were down 7.6%, as did Bauer Media titles which were down 7.4%.

Overall, women’s monthlies were down 3% year on year in a period that saw Time Inc’s InStyle go online only and Essentials cease publication in October.

Meanwhile Hearst did better than expected – down 4.4% - and its ABC performance showed its move to a "dynamic distribution" model may be bearing fruit.

The new marketing strategy, announced last year, essentially means slashing titles’ cover price and increasing the number of bulks (giveaways and discounted copies) to attract new readers.

Mulrenan praised Hearst’s efforts to "try something different" but admitted there was a "mixture of opinion" among advertisers over whether it was a good move by Hearst.

Mulrenan said: "We wouldn’t negotiate with media owners on [increased bulks]; we look at actively purchased and it depends on the quality of the product."

The women’s fashion weeklies and celebrity magazines fared very badly – down 15% – with Northern & Shell’s OK! Magazine plummeting 31.4% year on year to 189,000. This was despite OK! posting a 7.3% increase period on period.

The comparatively smaller men’s magazine market was down 1% year on year, during a period in which Dennis Publishing's Coach ceased printing after only having launched in 2015, while Wireless Group’s Sport published its final issue last week.

However, Hearst’s Esquire was the big winner in the men’s market, posting a 10.9% increase to 65,000 (up 7.6% in print).

The biggest winner of the major magazine media owners was Immediate Media, thanks to the success of its many children’s titles benefitting from recent movie franchise promotions for Star Wars and The Lego Batman Movie.

Girl Talk was a stand-out performer – up 12.8% year on year to 40,230 copies per fortnight – and Lego Ninjago, which was up 16.7% year on year to 74,887.

Immediate posted a combined print and digital circulation of 2.25 million – up 0.6% year on year – with Radio Times remaining the UK’s biggest weekly subscription brand after a 5% year-on-year increase in subs.

Tom Bureau, Immediate’s chief executive, put the success of its titles’ subscriptions business down to "the value of long-term relationships we forge with customers".

He added: "Our absolute focus on underpinning award-winning content with a fully integrated technology infrastructure allows us to develop and deliver innovative products and services to our growing customers base."

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free