Mags: state of the (mag)nation

I'm quite tardy with this exploration of the latest mag circulation figures (soz) but a piece in The Sunday Telegraph by Carmel Melouney and Melissa Hoyer (see right) prompted me to post.

In the six months to December 2007, Australians spent $105 million – that's $17.5 million a month – on magazines. Not bad for a country whose population is 21 million. It's no secret that we love our mags. And while publishing companies will wax lyrical about readership figures (by nature higher than circ. figures – i.e. for every one mag bought, at least three or four people will read it), the real indicator of where the mag market is at is the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) circulation audit.

Unlike America, where most mags are bought through cut-price subscriptions, Aussies prefer to make their weekly and monthly mag purchases in newsagents, at inner-city stands or at the supermarket, selecting titles based on loyalty (I always buy this magazine), interest (hobby/specialist titles), cover (I love this celeb/this story is a must-read), flick-through (appealing content), cover-mount (ooh, free gift!), promotional exposure (saw it on Sunrise), addiction (GWAS), boredom (on holidays, nothing better to do) or life events (getting married; travelling; having a baby; renovating). And we're happy to pay the full cover price for the privilege.

Australian mag sales are, therefore, a great indicator of consumer sentiment – mags are seen as luxury items (for GWAS, they're obvi a necessity), which, along with DVDs, clothes, perfume and such, are the first to be scratched from the shopping list when the purse strings tighten. Given current economic conditions, it'll probably be more interesting to look at results for the six months to June 2008, rather than the July-Dec '07 results, but it's a start. The ABC's auditing standards have also tightened, so publishers can't be sneaky and inflate sales data by giving away copies, etc., so it's probably not productive to compare with previous results, though it's fair to say the market has witnessed an overall downward trend (or experienced 'rationalisation', which is easier for publishers to swallow).

I should note, social commentator/journo David Dale is the supremo when it comes to assessing the market, and I've used his piece on the circ. figures as a jumping-off point, then mined the mags' websites for updated results (if someone wants to send me the official ABC report, go ahead!). I've used Australian circulation figures only (i.e. no international sales figures).

I'm going to give you stats for the women's/fashion market. Some magazines, such as Russh, Yen, Frankie and Oyster, don't audit, which is a bummer, but the majors are included...

Woman's Day: 465,565 copies per week (ACP)
New Idea: 388,257 (Pacific)
NW: 170,046 (ACP)
WHO Weekly: 141,682 (Pacific)
OK!: 140,826 (Northern & Shell/ACP)
Famous: 73,058 (Pacific)

The Australian Women's Weekly: 570,228 per month (ACP)
Cosmopolitan: 175,455 (ACP)
Cleo: 160,137 (ACP)
Marie Claire: 115,500+ (Pacific)
Madison: 97,632 (ACP)
Shop Til You Drop: 75,017 (ACP)
Women's Health: 75,000+ (Pacific)
InStyle: 64,874 (Pacific)
New Woman: 60,229
Harper's Bazaar: 53,531 (ACP)
Vogue Australia: 51,827 (News Magazines)

Teen girls
Dolly: 121,578
Girlfriend: 121,080

Not a lot of surprises – Harper's continues to out-sell Vogue (the only country in the world, I believe, where it does so), and the gap between teen titles Girlfriend and Dolly is practically non-existent, which is a huge coup for Pacific and departing Girlfriend editor (and friend of GWAS) Sarah Oakes, and should make things nice for the ad sales girls.

It will certainly be interesting to see the figures for the year to June '08, as well as the affect that Grazia and Glamour's entry will have on local market. The end-of-year results for Harper's, InStyle, Shop Til You Drop and Girlfriend will be eagerly anticipated by their respective new editors, I'm sure.

Read my post about Jan-June 2007 circulation figures here.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

P.S. The women's lifestyle division of Australia's biggest magazine publisher, ACP Magazines, has launched an interactive online consumer insights site, All Woman Talk (it's pink, of course!), where women can sign up to give their opinion on the company's women's titles, as well as other products and services.

"I have always believed in the power of research to identify a gap in the Australian market," says Pat Ingram, group publisher women's lifestyle titles. "Our focus is on launching magazine titles that consumers want, not what publishers want to sell - research is key to getting it right and our success over the years proves that."

The site will allow consumers (aka valued readers) to give instant feedback on editorial content, ad campaigns, products and services.

"Consumers who participate can hold virtual highlighters and circle elements they like of a magazine cover or advertisement," says women's lifestyle research director Justin Stone. "They can flip through virtual magazines while we track where they look. They can even participate in virtual shopping exercises, where browsing as well as purchasing, is possible. The respondents are given 'in context' situations providing a far greater degree of insight from the research."

Every time a site member completes a survey, she'll go into the quarterly prize draw (sign up before April 14 and go into a draw for $1000 cash).


Katie said...

Tried to register for All Woman Talk and it said "Your responses for this study have already been received, thank you." Ummmmm, no they haven't! I've never even been on the site and I'm pretty sure my husband didn't sign up......

There'll be no woman talk if this mistake happens to too many people!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the Sunday Telegraph (a News Ltd paper) makes NO mention of News Magazines launching Glamour.

And what is it that makes the Tele hate Russh so badly? They really have the claws out!

Sam said...

All Woman Talk is working properly again now. I registered ok, apparently they had a little bug in the system. Looks like a great site! I love the clip on the home page.