The magazine industry produces periodicals and magazines in both print and digital format. The consumer market for magazines is vast, ranging from individuals to professionals and tradespeople. According to Ibis World’s UK Market Research Report of May 2018 the UK magazine industry is currently worth approximately £4 billion. It employs 32, 677 people in over 2,500 businesses.
The Professional Publishers Association represents the interests of magazine publishers in the UK. Their membership consists of almost 400 publishers who provide more than 2,260 consumer, business and professional magazines. This represents 80 per cent of the UK magazine market in turnover. However, there are over 8,000 titles published in the UK which cover many different genres and types.
Magazines can be categorised into the following sectors:
Consumer– these can be general titles for entertainment or information such as Take a Break or Glamour. They can also be specialist or specific interest for example Coarse Fishing or Gardener’s World. 90% are sold in newsagents and supermarkets. The four main consumer magazine publishers (by newsagent sales revenue) are Bauer, IPC (Time Warner), Burda and National Magazines. There are about 2,800 consumer magazines in the UK.
Consumer magazines comprise approximately 85% of the industry. The remaining 15% of the market consist of:
Business / trade / professional / B2B – over 5,000 titles in the UK
Customer magazines – produced by publishing agencies as a form of marketing. Many large supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda provide free customer magazines. These cover a much larger circulation than the top selling consumer magazines as they are so widely circulated. Sky the Magazine had a circulation of 7 million copies monthly.
Newspaper supplements – free with daily or Sunday newspapers. Produced by most of the national newspapers in the UK.
Part works – specific number of issues on a particular subject to form a collection.
Academic journals – subject matter is controlled by academic boards.
The two main sources of revenue for magazines are print sales and advertising. Over the past decade print sales have declined due to significant online competition. There has also been a decline in print readership and external factors such as real household disposable income effect magazine sales.
The Internet has changed the landscape of traditional magazine publishing. Nowadays readers expect information 24-7 which paperless, digital news delivers. Many well-known magazines such as Newsweek and Instyle have ceased to produce their print editions.
Certain areas of the declining magazine industry, such as men’s magazines, reflect the way young people are now consuming magazines digitally. This has also been seen in music magazines as information is so freely available on the net. (Spin magazine went digital in December 2012.) TV magazine sales have fallen due to the availability of tv guides on our televisions or free supplements with newspapers. Paid for UK magazines audited by ABC lost sales at an average rate of 5.9 per cent year on year in 2017. Condé Nast saw their biggest circulation falls in 2016 reporting its titles down 8.9% year on year.
Women’s lifestyle magazines have taken a big hit with Healthy, Look and Women’s Fitness sales dropping by at least a fifth. Sales of Marie Claire, Grazia and Health & Fitness magazines all fell by at least 10 per cent.
Kevin Petley, Business Director of Hello magazine says, “Magazines are under threat, the days of the massive sellers are gone, and if we ignore this fact, we do so at our own peril. There has never been a more relevant time for magazines to demonstrate their value and relevance as a whole, to both consumers and advertisers.”
The following table shows the Top 10 Magazines by sales in the UK and Ireland according to the latest ABC statistics as of August 2018. It illustrates falling sales figures.
Nevertheless, in certain areas such as independent, specialist or ‘niche’ markets the magazine publishing industry is flourishing. Another growing sector is children’s magazines; pre-teen titles have increased their combined circulation by 12.4 per cent. Whilst sales of Private Eye reached 105,077 in 2016, an increase of 16.6%, indicating that current affairs remain one of the strongest magazine sectors.
The magazine industry continues to change and diversify. Whilst print sales decline, digital editions form a significant part of magazine sales. In order to compete in a transient market magazine publishers need to adapt their business models accordingly.
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