Women's weeklies suffer double-digit circulation drop

Women's weekly magazines are down by nearly 11%, according to the latest ABC figures for consumer magazines, while Time Inc suffered the worst combined annual circulation loss among the major publishers.

Cosmopolitan: down 2.2% year on year to 440,000 readers
Cosmopolitan: down 2.2% year on year to 440,000 readers

The fall in Time Inc’s 8.5% year on year fall in combined print and digital circulation was driven by Look’s 30% fall over the last 12 months. Look’s average monthly circulation for paid-for copies is down to 56,570.

Closer, published by Bauer, suffered the biggest yearly fall out of the women's weekly magazines for actively purchased copies (down 22% to 184,689).

Women's weekly titles were collectively down 10.8% in total, with NowWoman and Heat also suffering double-digital circulation falls for the six months to the end of June 2017.

Time Inc’s rivals did not fare much better, as both Hearst and Bauer were down 6.6% year on year, while Condé Nast was down 5.1%. Bauer's most popular title, Yours, fell 4.5% year on year to 225,498. 

Hearst's most popular titles posted circulation falls: Good Housekeeping (down 5.4% to 350,652) and Cosmopolitan (down 1.2% to 299,862).

Glamour, Condé Nast’s most popular title, fell by 7.1% year on year to 249,879, but this was not as big a fall as the 26% plummet reported six months ago. Meanwhile Vogue was down 7% to 126,290 and GQ was down 11.3% year on year to 65,353. 

Immediate Media, the special interest publisher of brands such as Radio Times and Top Gear Magazine, reported a 1.79% annual increase in combined print and digital circulation to 1.67 million – marking a fifth consecutive year of growth. However, paid-for circulation for Radio Times fell 6.8% to 617,039.

Hope in new distribution models?

The latest ABC numbers continue to tell the story of falling print circulation as consumers expect more for less and transition to buying media on digital formats.

However, Steve Goodman, managing director of print trading at Group M, told Campaign that advertisers would increasingly be looking at "non-actively purchased distribution" figures as magazine titles diversify ways of getting the product into consumers‘ hands.

An example of "non-active purchased" would be a brand who includes a free magazine subscription within a consumer purchase for their product or service.

This year Hearst has been proactive in what it calls "dynamic distribution", which is different to "bulks" because the magazines are targeted towards desired consumers by strategically giving free copies at specific events or areas.

Goodman explained: "Historically magazines and newspapers have been reluctant to give away too many free copies because either they’re re not recognised by ABC or agencies were very reluctant to put a value against those free copies. When you look at the numbers today, the publicaitons that have done okay have had a different way of distribution or significant element of free.

"So this issue is looking at different ways to get copies in people’s hands and maybe ensuring agencies are prepared to accept that free copies or low cost copies are valuable to their clients."

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