TINY GLAMOUR, BIG HIT
Byline: Samantha Conti
LONDON — It’s the silver bullet of the British women’s glossies.
One year after launching, British Glamour has rocketed to the top of the women’s market here, and now holds the number-two spot among women’s monthly consumer magazines after Cosmopolitan.
The Conde Nast title, with its fashion and celebrity-driven editorial, low cover price and novelty miniature size has been the most successful launch the U.K. market has seen in years, and has left In Style — which launched about the same time — in the dust.
With a circulation of 436,579, Glamour is nipping at the heels of Cosmopolitan, the 30-year-old market leader with a circulation of 463,010, according to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. In terms of U.K. paid-for copies — excluding bulks and freebies — Glamour is now the best-selling women’s monthly in the U.K., with a circulation of 414,453 compared with Cosmopolitan’s 397,032.
The little magazine — which measures about 8 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches — has taken the market here, and even its own publisher Simon Kippin, by surprise. “I was projecting a circulation of 200,000 by the end of 2001,” he said. “We were shocked. No one believed it would do this well.”
Last year, Glamour’s target for ad pages was 900, and the final count was 1,247. This year’s projection was 1,503, and now the company said the figure will be upward of 1,600 pages.
Glamour has clearly struck a chord with its readers, an audience of twenty and thirty-somethings who also buy Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue, Tatler and Harpers & Queen. The April issue, which hit the newsstands recently, features Kylie Minogue on the cover, introduces a monthly column by actress and designer Sadie Frost, and offers up “652 New Fashion and Beauty Fixes.”
Past cover girls include Natalie Imbruglia, Victoria Beckham and Calista Flockhart — as well as stories on Carre Otis’ battle with her weight, an interview with Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel, and the secrets of orgasmically compatible couples.
When Glamour and In Style debuted in Britain last year the market was depressed: circulations were flat or declining and there had been no significant launches.
“There was nothing like Glamour in the market before,” said Noleen Wyatt-Jones, the press manager for Zenith Media, a media planning company based here that represents clients such as Mars, Sara Lee and Toyota. “It has what I call ‘flick factor,’ you want to look through it. It doesn’t have heaps of in-depth stories — it has what women of that age group want to see: celebrities, fashion and beauty. And the visuals are so good. It’s become a badge of cool.”
At $2.25 an issue, the cover price is one of the most appealing features of the magazine. Glamour is among the least expensive of all the women’s glossy consumer titles, and a bargain compared to Cosmopolitan, which costs $4.05.
Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Conde Nast U.K. and chairman of the British Fashion Council, said the moment was ripe for a magazine like Glamour. “At Conde Nast, we felt that we had eight magazines which were all present in the upper part of the market, and it was time to widen our scope.”
Australian-born editor Jo Elvin, who was the editor of New Woman from 1998 to 2000, said she had no doubts the ground was fertile for a magazine like Glamour. “We came into a market that was gray and a little depressing,” she said. “It was stale, and crying out for something new.
“Of course, a lot of people thought we were crazy to launch a magazine when so many others had failed, and of course cynical rival publishers said the market didn’t need another women’s magazine.”
While they aren’t gloating, the staff of Glamour is clearly pleased that it seems to have seen off their competitor In Style. The assumption in the U.K. was that the celebrity magazine juggernaut would roll over its tiny competitor with ease. “The success of In Style was considered to be a fait accompli, but I think we have a very mature celebrity market here which may have caused some problems for the British In Style,” Elvin said.
But In Style’s publishers continue to insist they aren’t playing the same game. They say the magazine hit its circulation goals for 2001: The target was 150,000 and the ABC number was 151,159. “We’re very happy with the launch, and we’ve absolutely fulfilled our expectations,” said Katy Egan, publisher of In Style.
“Comparing In Style to Glamour is like comparing Vogue to Cosmo,” said Egan. “Glamour is a lot more mass and the cover price is half of that of the competition. So it basically becomes a throwaway read. The strategy of halving the cover price is of course going to boost your circulation, but in the end it has a serious impact on your business.”
“We’re focused on gradual, strong, steady growth and our goal is to follow the U.S. model. In 1994, In Style was selling 500,000 copies a month in the U.S. and today that figure is 1.6 million. The growth was gradual,” Egan added.
Many in the industry say Glamour’s success has helped give the market a shot in arm. The number of women buying magazines in the U.K. has increased by 17.8 percent over the past year and some magazines have even slashed their cover prices in order to compete with Glamour.
“The women’s market today is at its most competitive,” said Egan of In Style. “Everyone is having to work very hard for their market share.”
Wyatt-Jones of Zenith put it another way: “Glamour gave the market a kick up the rear — and it remains to be seen how much of a dent it has made.”