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Magazine ABCs: Who are the winners and losers from today's mag sales figures?

Scott Braniff, investment director at Havas Media Group, picks out the key figures from today's Audit Bureau of Circulations report on magazine sales.

The free title Shortlist


Today's ABCs show that free titles dominate the men’s sector. ShortList leads the way with a circulation of 500,449 and Sport comes in second with a circulation of 301,500.

Titles with alternative and unique distribution channels also delivered strong results this period. Forever Sports was up 44.7 per cent period on period (PoP) and Square Mile was up 10.8 per cent PoP.

Nuts has gone and Zoo has picked up some of its old readers, showing a 9.9 per cent year on year (YoY) increase. A revamped Loaded made an appearance again in the latest ABCs with a circulation of 30,150.

At the luxury end of the men’s market GQ and Esquire remained stable, and Men’s Health continues to deliver strong numbers, distributing over 200,000 digital and print copies a month.

Despite declines elsewhere across the sector we all need to consider total brand reach across all platforms. For example, whilst FHM was down 20 per cent YoY, we know that by using its digital platforms alongside the print product, it can extend the reach of a campaign by up to 37 per cent.


The women’s market saw mixed results. The premium end of the market is where there are positive stories. Instyle saw a YoY increase of 3.5 per cent, posting a circulation of151,584. This is as a result of a redesign and change in editorial direction which has clearly worked.

Hearst titles Good Housekeeping and Bazaar saw positive figures as a result of subscription drives, posting 3 per cent and 3.1 per cent PoP increases. Tatler has seen an increase in all likelihood due to the fly-on-the-wall television series and Women’s Health continues to go from strength to strength, posting a circulation of 118,118 (+5 per cent YoY).

Upmarket women’s monthlies such as Vogue, Glamour and Elle all posted relatively stable numbers. However Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan are seeing continual declines. These declines can’t be viewed in isolation though given the strength of the brands digital channels – Cosmopolitan’s mobile offering adds 31 per cent extra reach on top of print and PC numbers.

The weekly sector experienced declines across the board with 14 out of 21 titles in the market recording declines. Take a Break remains the market leader with a circulation of 645,844 and the largest increase was OK Magazine with an increase of 5.9 per cent PoP.

Digital Editions

Digital editions continue to perform well for news weeklies and special interest titles. The Economist UK is up 129 per cent with its digital edition standing at 49,976. The New Scientist also saw double digit growth and The Week posted a healthy 27,627. With the ability to deliver rich content, titles such as BBC History, Top Gear and Empire lead the way across the special interest sectors.

Importantly, a magazine brand’s digital reach needs to be looked at across all platforms with PC, Tablet and Mobile being considered, rather than focusing entirely on digital editions.

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