Mags: State of the (mag)nation (readership)

Better late than never, here is a handy stats roundup from Roy Morgan's December 2008 magazine readership estimates for your reference. What are Aussies reading in their spare time when they're not online?


High-glamour glossy Harper's Bazaar has the unfortunate honour of posting the third-worst readership decline of all magazines surveyed, with a 29.9% fall. Ouch. No doubt the pressure is on new editor Jamie Huckbody to lift the magazine's game after also recording a circulation fall of 10.9%. It now has 188,000 monthly readers, as opposed to 268,000 one year ago. It now makes sense why Huckbody might be tightening the Prada purse strings. Thankfully, advertisers appear to be hanging around.

Faring well:
Marie Claire (+12%): This women's magazine is enjoying a readership increase, as well as a 0.9% gain in sales. Clearly, its 522,000 readers have been responsive to the magazine's re-design and are choosing to invest their discretionary dollars in a quality product during tougher times.

Shop Til You Drop (+7.8%): Also in line with circulation stats (it had a 5% sales increase), Shop has broadened its readership scope by 7.8%. Perhaps women (at least, 207,000 of them) are living vicariously through this shop-a-logue or ignoring the "credit crunch" altogether?

Vogue Australia (+2.1%): While fellow luxury mag Harper's suffers, Vogue, a considerably smaller volume, is reaching 344,000 readers every month (156,000 more than Harper's) with its mix of high fashion, arts and thoughtful features with a smart feminist slant.

Going down:
InStyle (-16.9%): The Pacific Magazines title is having trouble finding its footing in a new economic climate where readers are being more selective about magazines that are relevant to their lives. The readership fall to 226,000 (from 272,000) follows a circulation drop of 4.8% in the year to December. It's the Nicole Kidman of magazines.

The Australian Women's Weekly (-14.7%): The drop in readership, to 2,236,000 a month, follows a circulation decline of 13.8% and puts the AWW behind weekly stablemate Woman's Day on the list of the nation's most-read magazines (WD reaches 2,240,000 readers each week). Do Michelle and Magda have what it takes to help lift readership results in the next half?

CLEO (-13.6%): Also in line with its circulation loss (-16.9%), young women's lifestyle magazine CLEO is losing readership share. While it had 551,000 readers 12 months ago, it now has 476,000 a month.

Cosmopolitan (-7.7%): Stablemate Cosmo continues to enjoy a larger share of the readership pie, with 632,000 sets of eyes each month compared to 685,000 12 months ago.

Madison (-7.3%): Madison has its work cut out competing with the globally branded Marie Claire. The ACP title reaches 240,000 readers each month compared to Marie Claire's 522,000.

Faring well:
OK! (+11.4%): Unlike its British and American counterparts, Aussie OK! has posted a readership increase, now attracting 430,000 readers with its offering of celebrity features and red-carpet pictures every week.

On par:
Grazia (n/a): The new fashion glossy attracts 193,000 readers each week (and a bit of controversy, too).

Who (-0.8%): Maintaining its readership position, this celebrity-meets-current-affairs weekly attracts 757,000 readers a week.

That's Life (-0.8%) and Take 5 (+0.8%): These Pacific and ACP 'reality' weeklies attract 1,125,000 and 893,000 weekly readers respectively.

Going down:
The celebrity mag staples and their more mature counterparts have taken a hit...

Though still averaging 458,000 readers every week, NW's bold and brassy "celebrity sells" offering has turned away some 105,000 weekly readers.

As with NW and despite a 1.6% circulation gain in the year to December 2008, Pacific Mags' Famous is now read by 277,000 people each week, down from 310,000.

Woman's Day (-7.3%): Currently the most-read publication in the country, ACP's Woman's Day is picked up by 2,240,000 people each week, while its Pacific counterpart New Idea (-4.9%) is read by 1,889,000 people each week.

Dolly (-5.8%) and Girlfriend (-6.5%) have both lost readers, with results of 355,000 and 317,000 respectively in the 14+ age bracket. It remains to be seen whether publishers will move their teen mags online and expand their digital offerings beyond news, blogs, pics and the occasional video.

Faring well:
Inspired by the likes of The Biggest Loser and various Government-led health campaigns, Aussies have food and fitness on the mind and are only too happy to share their recipe resources and the smart health knowledge they acquire...

Recipes+ (60.3%): 279,000 from 174,000, though the mag's circulation dipped 15.6% over the same period.
Women's Health & Fitness (+31.2%): 149,000 monthly readers.
Health Smart (+27.8%): 92,000 readers in addition to a 19% circulation rise.
Nature & Health (+24.6%): 86,000 readers.
Super Food Ideas (+13.1%): 1,009,000 readers, though it lost 10% of sales in the year to December.
Donna Hay (+7.6%): 367,000 readers and monthly 90,408 buyers.
Australian Good Taste (+7.2%): 702,000 readers, up from 655,000.
Slimming & Health (+3.75%): 83,000 monthly readers.

On par:
delicious. (-0.6%): 473,000 readers
Women's Health (n/a): 338,000 readers
Australian Good Food (n/a): 278,000 readers

Going down:
WellBeing (-19.2%): 122,000 from 151,000
Good Health & Medicine (-14%): The ACP title now has 269,000 readers.
Diabetic Living (-10%): 189,000 readers.
Australian Healthy Food Guide (-9.2%): 138,000 readers and 33,760 monthly copy sales.
Australian Gourmet Traveller (-6.8%): 274,000 readers.
Weight Watchers (-5.9%): with 160,000 readers has just gone monthly.

Faring well:
Your Garden (+11.9%): now has 198,000 monthly readers, up from 177,000.
Better Homes & Gardens (+9.9%) goes from strength to strength. It now boasts 1,710,000 monthly readers.
Belle (+6.3%): 102,000 readers.
Burke's Backyard (+4.7%): 465,000 readers up from 444,000.

On par:
Gardening Australia (-0.2%) now has 495,000 monthly readers.

Going down:BoldAs predicted, the more slick of the homemaker titles have experienced a slide...

Australian Country Style
(-10.5%): down to 221,000 monthly readers.
Inside Out (-6.4%): down to 131,000 readers from 140,000.
Home Beautiful (-4%): is read by 333,000 people each month.
House & Garden (-2.8%): 583,000 monthly readers.
Vogue Living (-2.5): now has 159,000 readers.
Notebook (-2.2%): 307,000 readers.
Real Living (-1.8%): 114,000 readers, slightly down from 116,000.

Faring well:
RM Williams Outback (+22.8%):
should we thank Australia or The Farmer Wants a Wife? This title has 231,000 readers.
Zoo Weekly (+12.2%):
attracts 554,000 readers with the help of crafty marketing strategies (3D glasses or 'Win a divorce', anyone?).
Inside Sport (+6.9%):
attracts 109,000 blokes each month.

On par:
Men's Health (-0.3%):
the Pacific Mags title has 349,000 monthly readers with increasingly bigger biceps.
Top Gear Australia (n/a)
, care of BBC/ACP, has 410,000 monthly readers with increasingly bigger motors.

Going down:
GQ (-23.2%):
published by News Magazines, now has 43,000 readers.
FHM (-18.7%):
this ACP title is down to 270,000 monthly readers.
Men's Style Australia (-18.4%):
down to 62,000 male readers with a clue about shoes and Porsches (as well as boobs).
Alpha (-12.7%):
down to 281,000 readers. It also lost 16% of sales over the same period. It's published by News Magazines.
Ralph (-12%):
321,000 readers, down from 365,000. Also ACP.

Faring well:
The Monthly (25.4%): sniff it and your IQ actually rises. It attracts 84,000 readers without attention deficit disorder.
Smart Investor (+15.3%): clearly people still have money to invest – 196,000 of them.
New Scientist (+6.5%): self-improvement of a cerebral nature for 264,000 readers.
Time (+2.5%): Thank the Federal Election, Barack Obama, those Wall Street fat-cats and a growing need for quality information and journalism in the blogging age. Time now has 290,000 more informed readers.

On par:
BRW (0%):
still attracts 168,000 business-minded readers each week.
Reader's Digest (0.5%): still ranks amongst the top-10 most-read Aussie titles, with 935,000 readers each month. I digest mine in the doctor's surgery.
National Geographic (-1.4%): has a huge 723,000 readers.

Going down:
The Big Issue (-12%):
when the economy sucks, so does our level of giving. This title, sold by the homeless and downtrodden, attracts 153,000 readers each issue.
Money Magazine (-2.7%):
how ironic! This title now has 182,000 readers.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

* Roy Morgan conducts a national survey of around 60,000 people aged 14+ over a 12-month period with the findings weighed against ABS population data to determine readership figures. As apposed to circulation, which relates to the number of copies sold, readership refers to the number of people reading any one copy of a magazine (e.g. shared household copies).


Anonymous said...

So thorough! I really enjoyed this post. It's so interesting to see which mags aren't doing so well compared to others who are slammin'

Anonymous said...

Clearly you spent a rather large proportion of your time in Melbourne perusing Mag Nation - YAY!

Unknown said...

I can't understand why Cosmo still outdoes Cleo. Cleo is SUCH a better magazine!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I don't completely understand these mag reports. Though I definitely see how comparing sales to previous years is very important, if, for example, Australian Women's Weekly is still selling around 2,236,000 a month, then isn't that really good, even if there's been a decline? Or are the percentages more important than the numbers?

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

I'd agree with your point, Jess.

While I think percentage differences give us an indication of where the market is at and how readers/buyers are responding to magazines (as well as an indication of where advertisers might direct their budgets), if a magazine is still selling its socks off, then it's still reaching a heck of a lot of people and also influencing them in some way.

From a publisher's perspective, underperforming mags in terms of circulation are something to be nervous about, but if there isn't a significant drop in advertising pages - the bread and butter income for the monthlies - they're nothing to get too bothered over.

For the weeklies, it's a slightly different story, as sales generate a larger portion of the magazine's income.

Clearly, there are a number of differentials that will affect mag sales and readership outside of the editor/publisher's control (consumer spending, for example), but cover choices, marketing, cover mounts, exclusives, etc. all play their part in lifting or decreasing mag sales, making the numbers a reflection of the mag's publishing and editorial strategy.

For advertisers, it's all about how readers 'engage' with a magazine and whether said magazine (and its readership) is the right editorial fit for its glossy ad pages. So while Harper's might experience a circ. decline, Prada will presumably keep up its presence in the mag.

Editors do, however, always aim to better their circulation and readership figures. It's just the way the game and the egos roll.

I'm not sure if any of the above makes sense!