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To be uniquely different - and grow newsstand sales

A handful of UK magazine publishers claimed bragging rights for their newsstand performances during the first six months of 2018. The common thread emerging from magazines that showed newsstand growth seems to be the ability to double down on the qualities inherent to print and to create content that is uniquely different from all other mediums.  


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Bauer Media launched its third new newsstand title for 2018 in September. TV Years: The Eighties, the first in a series of magazines dedicated to an iconic era of television with a cover price of GBP£3.99 (US$5.21), appeared on newsstands less than a month after the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) announced its consumer magazines report for the first six months of 2018. It confirmed Bauer as the UK’s biggest selling magazine publisher with 70.4 million copies circulated.

Outstanding “performances” listed by Bauer were Bella, taking the “No 1 spot in the Women’s Weeklies Classics market”, TV listings (the UK’s biggest magazine category by volume) with ‘TV Choice’ and ‘Total TV Guide’ dominating 43.1 per cent of the market and ‘Garden Answers’ showing a “double-digital growth”.

Earlier this year, in April, Bauer’s Empire magazine team launched Pilot TV at £4.99 ($6.52) - although it is unclear if a second Pilot will appear - and a month later, the company launched Simply You, a monthly magazine priced at £1.90 ($2.48) aimed at women over 40. It is still in print and issue 10 will appear on 4 October.  

Bauer was not the only publisher achieving bragging rights during the latest ABC period. Immediate Media Co, the “special interest content and platform company”, posted a combined ABC audited print and digital circulation of almost 1.6 million.      

Standout “performances”, according to a company media release were a second consecutive year of growth for BBC Gardeners' World magazine, which grew 18.5 per cent period-on-period, and Immediate’s re-school portfolio showing an 8.3 per cent growth year-on-year. Radio Times and BBC Gardeners’ World magazine now have the largest reach of any weekly and general interest monthly magazines in the UK, the publisher claims. 

TI Media, formerly Time Inc., also laid claim to an outstanding “performance” saying Woman&Home reached the “no.1 spot” for a “monthly lifestyle magazine on the newsstand” with sales growing 1.3 per cent for the same period year-on-year.

UK children’s specialist publisher, Egmont Publishing, showed growth with Disney Princess improving 27.5 per cent year-on-year and Go Girl’delivering a year-on-year and period-on-period improvement of 24.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.

Dennis’ current affairs magazine aimed at “curious and smart” eight to 14-year olds, The Week Junior showed a period-on-period increase of slightly over 13,000 paid newsstand and subscriber copies - up 30.75 per cent to reach over 59.000 copies sold. Since its November 2015 launch the title has grown every audit period, and it is now “one of the largest” children’s magazines in the UK.


The secret of their success

No matter the varying criteria used by publishers to claim success, or “no 1” spots, any continued newsstand success and especially new launches are particularly notable against a backdrop of generally falling print magazine readership figures and declining print ad spend.

Almost all of the success secrets centre around the rediscovery of the qualities inherent to print and the realisation that printed content needs to distinguish itself from any other medium.

Rob Munro-Hall, group managing director at Bauer Magazine Media told What’s New in Publishing “the prevailing wisdom now” is that print titles have to offer an experience that cannot be replicated on another medium. “This is how you command audience attention.” While consumers have many more alternatives for consuming content around their given interests, publishers need to reappraise what purpose a print title might offer by doubling down on quality, particularly when it appears on a newsstand. 

Munro-Hall’s sentiments resonates in the words of TI Media CEO Marcus Rich: “With the renewed focus on trusted environments and PAMCo (The Publishers Audience Measurement Company - read: ‘Cross-media measurement systems - it’s a matter of trust’) now clearly demonstrating the true reach of magazine media, strong magazine brands will do well. We’re positioning our brands to be the best in their fields, with investments in quality content and experiences that entertain and connect consumers to their passions.” 

In the wake of Immediate Media’s positive ABC results, the Radio Times publisher announced the purchase of the BBC Good Food brand from BBC Studios. The magazine, with an average print circulation of 169,506, is described by Immediate chief executive Tom Bureau as “the biggest brand in food publishing and media”. He says the acquisition fits into Immediate’s overall strategy on focussing on, and serving, “high value special interest communities”. Immediate now publish ten BBC-branded magazines, including BBC History Magazine and BBC Music.

Egmont Publishing’s Siobhan Galvin, commercial director of magazines, highlights the tactile qualities of print in their success. She  says their research has shown that parents value the physicality and the overall package printed magazines provide. Parents - and their children - also appreciate how magazines offer time away from screens and enable them to spend time doing activities and reading together. “Magazines are an affordable ‘treat with benefits’,” she says.

Anna Bassi, editor-in-chief of Dennis’ The Week Junior, reiterated the fact that there remains “a real appetite for high quality, factual and informative content” in print and on newsstands. In this case the appetite emanates from younger people who value the content produced in a print magazine, she says.


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