Lifestyle and Specialist Magazines Market Assessment
- ID: 3741
- January 2000
- Region: United Kingdom
- Key Note Publications Ltd
There have been enormous changes in the media landscape since the early 1980s (and particularly in the late 1990s), many of which have brought potential threats to the magazine industry. Most newspapers now have multiple sections, with supplements and magazines, many dealing with the kind of lifestyle topics which were previously the province of consumer magazines. On television there has been a rise in available channels as a result of digital and cable access, with an increasing proportion of output being given over to `magazine-style' programmes dealing with topics such as cooking, fashion and home decorating. The Internet, which in future will be responsible for the most dramatic changes affecting all media, is just beginning to grow strongly in the UK, with businesses of all kinds anxious to gain a presence.
Within the magazine industry there have also been changes, some of them in response to the encroachment of other media onto traditional magazine territory. There has been a rise in the number of magazines - 350 more magazine titles were listed in British Rate and Data (Brad) in 1998 than in 1997 - but there have also been closures. In general, the lifespan of a magazine tends to be shorter than it was, and companies are more likely than they were to cut their losses on a title that is not performing well.
The majority of the key consumer magazine titles are owned by a relatively small number of major publishing companies, including IPC Magazines, Emap PLC, The National Magazine Company, Condé Nast Publications, G and J of the UK, Bauer and BBC Worldwide. At the more specialised end of the market, there are a large number of small companies catering to niche audiences.
Consumer magazines obtain revenue from a number of sources, including copy sales, advertising revenue and (increasingly) from related products, or `brand extensions', such as exhibitions and licensed goods.
The UK magazine market, based on advertising and circulation alone, was estimated to be worth £2.68bn in 1999 - an increase of 59.4% since 1994. The proportion of revenue derived from copy sales as opposed to other sources has increased over the past ten years in 1999, almost three-quarters of total revenue came from copy sales. This is partly due to the fact that cover price increases have generally been ahead of inflation.
Within the sectors covered by the scope of this report, women's weekly lifestyle magazines dominate the top ten in terms of numbers of copies sold, including
long-standing titles such as Woman and Woman's Own, plus newer entrants like Bauer's Take a Break, which was in top place in August 1999. The only male lifestyle title to reach the top ten is FHM, which was in second place.
The top ten for circulation revenue (which depends on cover price as well as copy sales) looks rather different. Although Take a Break (with an average net circulation of well over a million copies) is still in top place, with a circulation revenue of £38.9m, the second and third places are taken by the weekly celebrity magazines Hello and OK!. The only consumer specialist magazine in the top ten is Future Publishing's Official PlayStation Magazine, which, with cover-mounted CDs, can command a cover price of around £5.
Very few consumer magazines are sold through subscriptions the PPA quotes trade estimates of around 11% of average issue sales being accounted for in this way. Consumer magazines with the highest subscription levels tend to be long-established titles such as Good Housekeeping and Woman and Home, or specialist magazines such as BBC Gardeners' World. Although the majority of retail sales of magazines are still made through the news trade, the sector's share has become eroded in recent years as supermarkets have become more important.
The Advertising Association estimates that consumer magazines accounted for 6.8% of total advertising spend in 1998 for the year to June 1999, 55.8% of the total combined press advertising for clothing and accessories appeared in consumer magazines, as did 54.4% of all mail order advertising, and 40.6% of advertising for garden products. On average, the expenditure of the top 25 advertisers in consumer magazines increased by 16% during the year to June 1999.
The top lifestyle and specialist consumer magazines in terms of advertising revenue during 1998 were Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.
A growth area for magazines in recent years has been diversification into new product areas. These brand extensions, covering a spectrum ranging from spin-off magazine titles and home shopping catalogues to exhibitions and consumer products, can boost circulation through extra publicity as well as opening up new revenue sources. However, there are also pitfalls, including the cannibalisation of advertising revenue from the main titles and the possibility of upsetting existing advertisers by entering into competition with them. Most publishers are treading relatively cautiously.
Masthead television, the extension of magazine brands into television programmes, was finally given the UK go-ahead for cable and satellite television in 1997, with an extension to terrestrial channels in 1998. Developments have been fairly slow since then, although both Good Housekeeping and Zest magazines have had series on Sky, and the first prime-time example of masthead television on ITV (OK!TV) was broadcast in December 1999.
The magazine industry is still learning how to turn the potential threat of the Internet into an opportunity. Many of the early entrants into online publishing lost money. However, publishers are now beginning to approach the medium in a more systematic way, and the consensus is emerging that the way forward is not by charging for Internet content, but by treating it as an opportunity for further brand extension, including e-commerce and Internet service provision.
Market Assessment's original research found that, although three in ten respondents said they read magazines more now than they did five years ago, nearly four in ten said they were reading less. Just over a third said that the proliferation of `lifestyle' programmes on television meant they now never or rarely read magazines, with a similar proportion attributing this to the large number of supplements and magazines in newspapers. Only 13% said that the large amount of information available on the Internet made magazines unnecessary for them.
Although the abundance of magazine titles means that magazine loyalty is assumed to be less strong than it was, Market Assessment's research found that loyal readers still seemed to outnumber `browsers', with 46% of the sample in the former group and 37% in the latter one. Just under a third of respondents admitted that, although they enjoyed looking at magazines, they didn't buy them.
The findings also suggested that a significant minority of respondents are receptive to the concept of links between the magazines they read and the products they buy. 37% said that they enjoyed looking at advertisements in magazines, with similar proportions saying that they were more likely to buy a product which was recommended by a magazine, and that they would be interested in items marketed or produced by a magazine they enjoyed.
Nearly half of all respondents said that they read at least one specialist or leisure magazine, and 38% said that the advertisements in such magazines were very useful to them.
The proportion of respondents who regularly visit the web sites of magazines they normally read is still relatively low, at 12%, and the number who visit sites of magazines they do not read in print is even lower: only 7% currently do so.
Women's Lifestyle Magazines
Women's lifestyle magazines have dominated the world of consumer magazines for many years, and are still among the most important in circulation terms. However the market has been in the doldrums for some time, with weekly magazines in particular showing poor performance. The problem seems to be mainly the lack of clear branding, with little to distinguish most of the weeklies from each other in terms of content, design or layout. One exception to this has been the celebrity weekly segment, which tends to have a slightly younger and more upmarket readership than the traditional weeklies.
In the case of monthly women's magazines, too, sales have been disappointing of the twelve top-selling titles, only four saw circulation increases between 1998 and 1999. The relatively poor performance of magazines with a more home-focused content could be attributed in part to the growth in the specialist home interest sector, while it has been mooted that some of the younger women's glossy monthlies have suffered due to the rising readership of the men's lifestyle titles.
Men's Lifestyle Magazines
The men's lifestyle magazines sector has not had an easy ride, either, and after a meteoric rise in popularity through the early and mid-1990s, circulation figures for the end of the decade have led commentators to question whether the boom in men's lifestyle magazines might be on the wane. The former `stars' of the sector, FHM and Loaded, both saw circulation decreases between 1998 and 1999. Coupled with (or perhaps related to) declining sales, there have been a number of adverse press reports recently about their sexual content and irreverent coverage of sensitive topics.
Specialist and Leisure Magazines
The specialist sector of the consumer magazine market has always been highly fragmented, with a magazine for almost every conceivable hobby or leisure interest. The sector has been helped by the increasing importance of the leisure market in the UK, and this is reflected in the number of specialist magazines, which is still growing steadily. This epitomises the trend, also to be found within the lifestyle sector, for magazine titles to be targeted increasingly at tightly-defined groups.
Computer games magazines represent one of the fastest growing sectors of the entire magazine market they have become increasingly lifestyle oriented, and, as such, the most successful are beginning to rival men's lifestyle magazines.
The home interest sector began to grow in importance during the late 1990s, in tandem with the boom in the housing market, and a growing style consciousness among all sections of the population. The gardening sector is linked to similar factors, and to a new interest in the garden as a `room outside', for entertaining and leisure, among those who previously had no interest in gardening.
The market for parenting magazines has become very crowded in recent years, with fierce competition among publishers, and a number of casualties, especially among magazines such as Emap's Parents and National Magazine Company's M, aimed at parents of older children.
Market Assessment forecasts that the total UK market for consumer magazines will grow by 25.6% between 2000 and 2004, to £3.52bn. The magazine market has seen many changes, and the first decade of the new millennium is likely to see an acceleration of these changes as the media marketplace continues to expand. The rapid turnover in terms of magazine launches and closures is likely to continue the way forward will be for more tightly-focused targeting of new and existing magazine titles, with more resources going into marketing to support them. SHOW LESS READ MORE >