UK: A closer look at how British women’s magazines have been selling

The UK is a big market for women's magazines, as most of you must know.  There's no shortage of magazine brands there. It's an interesting mix of usual suspects (the ELLE's, Vogue's, Harper's of the world) as well as local titles such as Red, Essentials, Stylist, etc.  Since the latest ABC UK circulation numbers (period of July 1 – December 31st 2009) came out recently, I suggest we take a look at the winners first and losers last. 

WINNERS

IPC Media's Essentials magazine was the biggest climber in the women's lifestyle and fashion sector it appears, up 14% YoY and selling now an average of 112 135 copies in the second half of 2009.  Publisher IPC Media (owned by Time Warner Group) hat another hit in the newsstands this past semester with Woman & Home, which was up 4% YoY to 368 388 copies now, up 5% vs. first half of 2009. This was its highest circulation in 14 years!

Essentials

Hachette Filipacchi's Red, now edited by former Cosmopolitan editor Sam Baker, achieved a record circulation of 226 502, up 3.5% on the first half – but up less than 1% on the year to outsell Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.  Nadia Dawson, the current Red publisher, told the Guardian newspaper recently that its success was due to "the strongest editorial team in the business with a determination to always produce the luxury lifestyle magazine for smart women – a strategy single-mindedly followed for the past three years". "This, coupled with a refusal to trade down on the quality of the content or our production values, means Red continues to be the magazine of choice for the upmarket thirtysomething women," Dawson declared.  But there was bad news for Red's stablemate at HachettePsychologies, which was down 6.8% YoY to 130 860. This is remaining steady since the early days of 2009.  Psychologies' launch editor Maureen Rice left the title in October, with former InStyle and Good Housekeeping editor Louis Chunn taking over.  Lastly, Hachette Filipacchi's ELLE remained under the 200 000 threshold, selling 195 455 copies on average a month, also steady vs. previous year.

Stylist Shortlist Media also launched a free weekly women's mag called Stylist in October 2009, which recorded a debut distribution figure of 410,674.

Over at NatMags (owned by Hearst Communications), Harper's Bazaar (UK) was up 1.1% YoY to 110 638. Cosmopolitan (UK) was down 4.5% on the second half of 2008 to 430 353. But the publisher's Good Housekeeping (UK) reversed this trend, up 1.1% YoY to 430 089 and 5% on the first half to sell an average of 430 089 each month.

Among the fashion weeklies, IPC's Look was down less than 1% to 313 013, while Bauer Consumer Media's five-year-old Grazia (UK) was up 1.1% on the same period in 2008 to 229 732 copies, its ninth successive ABC increase!  Bauer's More!, which caters to more mature women, continued its strong performance, up 6.4% year on year to 192 860. But sister magazine Yours, aimed at an older market, was down again, this time 7.3% year on year to 284 560.

LOSERS

The biggest selling magazine in the sector remained Condé Nast's Glamour, down 6% YoY to average 515 281 each month while upscale sister title Vogue (UK) was down 4.5% to sell 210 526.  Vanity Fair was up 1.2% year on year to 102 421, while sister title Tatler was steady compared with the second half of 2009 at 86 345.  No glorious figures this time for Condé Nast UK overall.

Candis Marie Claire (UK), a joint venture between IPC and French publisher Groupe Marie Claire, was down 9.9% YoY to 283 025. But IPC's Instyle was steady year on year at 184 141.

The worst performer in the market was NatMags' She, down 9.1% year on year to 150 074 and up less than 1% on the previous six-month period.  Independent magazine Candis also fared badly, down 7.8% year on year to 263 754.  Easy Living had another poor result, down 8.1% year on year at 170 033.

Overall, the women's lifestyle and fashion sector was up 4.7% YoY and 9.2% on the previous six months to sell and distribute a combined average of 6 580 758 copies per issue.

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