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Second Half Proves Tough for Mags

The second-half newsstand sales numbers provided precious little good news for consumer magazines, with many women's middle-market titles suffering big drops and the core fashion titles stagnant or down.

The second-half newsstand sales numbers provided precious little good news for consumer magazines, with many women’s middle-market titles suffering big drops and the core fashion titles stagnant or down.

Among fashion magazines, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar were flat, while Vogue was down 5 percent on top of a 6 percent decline in the second half of 2006. W got a massive boost from its August cover of David and Victoria Beckham, which, at more than 80,000 copies, was the best-selling in its history, securing a 13 percent rise in newsstand sales on average.

Things were tougher in the middle. Despite efforts to freshen its look, In Style was down nearly 9 percent, and Marie Claire continues to struggle. This week, the magazine unveiled in its March issue an entirely new cover strategy, its second or third cover redesign in two years, though a spokeswoman preferred to describe the changes as a “natural evolution of the arrival of Marie Claire’s new creative director, Suzanne Sykes,” who was hired in May by editor in chief Joanna Coles. The 14.3 percent drop in the second half of 2007 followed a 26.9 percent drop over the year before; in total, the magazine has shed more than a third of its newsstand in second-half periods since Coles became editor in spring 2006. Two strong months in last year’s second half approached the levels seen two years ago, raising the current average to 341,000: July with Angelina Jolie and September with Ashley Olsen.

Marie Claire isn’t alone in seeing tough numbers, however: Glamour’s newsstand declined 13 percent in the period to an average of 747,014, marking the title’s sixth consecutive half-year reporting period with a newsstand drop. The December issue, which featured Jennifer Garner on the cover, sold especially poorly — 245,000 copies less than the December 2006 one, a 26 percent decrease. Allure also reported double-digit declines in the half, at 12.6 percent. The magazine pointed to its having raised the cover price from $2.99 to $3.50 in August 2006 as a reason. Allure was ahead of the curve: over at Hearst Magazines, many of its titles raised their cover prices last year.

The one bright spot in women’s magazines for newsstand sales appears to be the health and fitness category: Shape saw a 10 percent bump to 355,864 for the period, with notable success on July’s Leann Rimes cover, which sold 482,295 copies, edging out perennial rival Self, which was up 3.6 percent to 351,317. Women’s Health continued its robust growth since launching in October 2005, though it is still smaller than its competitors.

This story first appeared in the February 8, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Vanity Fair attributed its 12.8 percent newsstand drop in the second half to what a spokeswoman called “the Suri Factor” — it was tough to beat last year’s issue with exclusive Suri Cruise photos, the second best-selling in the magazine’s history. “If you remove the October issue from both second halves and compare them, they’re basically flat. That said, we’re sorry circulation-wise that Tom Cruise didn’t have another baby this year,” she said. The decline came despite the magazine’s much-hyped Africa issue in July.

As for the men, GQ’s 7 percent growth on the newsstand made this six-month period the highest this decade, with steady increases almost every month. Total circulation dropped slightly as some Cargo subscribers moved on (although 24 percent of Cargo subscribers did renew their GQ, according to a spokesman, a number well above the industry standard.) The October anniversary issue was up 48 percent (outselling Josh Hartnett’s cover in 2006), with about 290,000 copies sold, the period’s best seller. The one issue in the half with a woman on its cover, Jessica Biel, also did extremely well. Editor in chief Jim Nelson said the growth stemmed from “strong covers that are visually dynamic, that are tied to what’s going on in the culture, a real consistency of editorial content. There’s this mixture of giving people a lot of surprise, a lot of energy, and also consistent advice and strong service.”

Maxim’s numbers have yet to reflect the tweaks made by newish editor Jim Kaminsky, and Alpha Media Group chief executive officer Kent Brownridge said the magazine saw no rise in subscriptions from the closing of brother magazine Stuff in the fall.


Second-Half 2007 Circulation Figures
NEWSTAND ’07 NEWSTAND ’06 % CHANGE Total circ ’07 Total circ ’06 % CHANGE
FASHION
Allure 255,229 292,028 -12.6% 1,094,032 1,131,262 -3.3%
Cosmopolitan 1,896,600 1,945,296 -2.5% 2,902,800 2,947,220 -1.5%
Elle 351,900 357,333 -1.5% 1,055,027 1,060,634 -0.5%
Essence 266,120 270,037 -1.5% 1,085,945 1,075,622 1.0%
Glamour 747,014 861,006 -13.2% 2,353,854 2,301,687 2.3%
Harper’s Bazaar 179,300 180,234 -0.5% 730,800 726,012 0.7%
In Style 700,112 765,937 -8.6% 1,723,840 1,760,542 -2.1%
Lucky 256,361 266,848 -3.9% 1,153,309 1,161,278 -0.7%
Marie Claire 341,000 397,757 -14.3% 997,400 962,025 3.7%
Self 351,317 339,039 3.6% 1,470,792 1,488,868 -1.2%
Shape 355,864 322,889 10.2% 1,730,088 1,700,232 1.8%
Town & Country 48,400 53,265 -9.1% 456,500 459,736 -0.7%
Vanity Fair 388,678 445,635 -12.8% 1,161,788 1,239,850 -6.3%
Vogue 415,214 437,512 -5.1% 1,273,546 1,282,589 -0.7%
W 49,296 43,415 13.5% 466,228 460,156 1.3%
Women’s Health 282,431 197,973 42.7% 907,838 648,981 39.9%
 
TEEN
Cosmogirl 388,100 393,429 -1.4% 1,455,600 1,443,482 0.8%
Seventeen 420,500 406,223 3.5% 2,081,000 2,034,856 2.3%
Teen Vogue 264,502 283,130 -6.6% 989,320 1,005,437 -1.6%
 
LIFESTYLE
Martha Stewart Living 391,400 394,469 -0.8% 2,021,934 2,000,036 1.1%
More 200,800 184,000 9.1% 1,261,799 1,188,932 6.1%
O, The Oprah Magazine 836,800 866,884 -3.5% 2,405,200 2,382,917 0.9%
Real Simple 413,263 395,724 4.4% 1,986,605 1,959,990 1.4%
Redbook 268,200 291,035 -7.8% 2,264,600 2,408,206 -6.0%
 
MEN
Best Life 79,765 79,413 0.4% 496,053 424,771 16.8%
Details 76,414 76,117 0.4% 456,261 455,374 0.2%
Esquire 105,000 112,248 -6.5% 721,200 709,151 1.7%
GQ 242,408 225,853 7.3% 913,580 1,005,303 -9.1%
Maxim 433,567 450,575 -3.8% 2,548,610 2,501,175 1.9%
Men’s Health 540,150 519,358 4.0% 1,804,949 1,804,921 0.0%
Men’s Journal 88,478 85,840 3.1% 719,627 710,478 1.3%
Men’s Vogue 64,248 336,189
SOURCE: 2007 FIGURES ARE PUBLISHERS’ ESTIMATES PROVIDED TO AUDIT BUREAU OF CIRCULATIONS. 2006 ARE FIGURES FROM ABC’S FAS-FAX. HEARST PROVIDES ROUNDED CIRCULATION FIGURES.
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