You might think that with all the newspapers having TV pages and most TVs themselves having Teletext there’d be no market for TV listings magazines. But you’d be wrong because once again, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures, What’s on TV is the best-selling magazine in the UK. And not too far behind it is TV Choice, with the Radio Times still going strong in the fourth position. However, according to analysis by MediaTel for the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA), What’s on TV’s circulation fell by 4.3% in the July to December 06 period, when compared to the previous year. Radio Times was down too, by just over 1% while TV Choice had a much better six months, with circulation up nearly 12%.

These circulation figures might not mean much to you; more important are the ’annualised retail values’ of the titles. So What’s on TV is worth around £31.4m a year at retail; TV Choice, £24.6m and Radio Times, a whopping £50.4m. The differences between circulation and retail value are all to do with cover price - with What’s on TV selling at 42p an issue, TV Choice at 35p and Radio Times at 98p.

The £50m value of Radio Times is good but not as good as that of OK!, which is worth £54.2m in retail sales and is the most valuable of all the magazines. It sells at £2 and is the seventh best-selling title in the UK.

OK! trades in the fiercely competitive women’s weeklies sector where top performers from July to December 2006 were Star with a circulation up 26% and Grazia up 22%. However Star is still only number 35 in the top 100 magazines list, worth £12m at retail, while Grazia is at number 45, worth £17.5m. Within the top 10, Closer’s circulation was up 6% and Heat’s up 4% while Chat was down 10% and Now was down 6%.

Competition in this sector has just got more intense with the launch of IPC Connect’s Look, which is backed by an £18m spend. Look is being billed as "the UK’s first glossy high-street fashion and celebrity style weekly". It has a cover price of £1.30 and has been heavily sampled with more than 1.2 million copies being given away in supermarkets and shopping malls.

The title is said to "deliver an unparalleled mix of affordable fashion, high-street shopping advice, celebrity style and gossip".

== Men at work ==

Meanwhile things are not as rosy in the men’s magazines market where lifestyle titles are having a particularly hard time. ABC analysis by Seymour Marketing Services says men’s monthlies saw an overall newstrade decline of 22.6% year-on-year, with seven of the 12 titles audited reporting year-on-year declines. The circulations of Arena, Loaded and Maxim were all down 29% in the final six months of last year while FHM was down 26%.

Seymour reports that Dennis Publishing’s Men’s Fitness showed a healthy increase of 9.3% in newstrade sales and says titles like this, that focus more on looking after yourself than mainstream lifestyle content, are generally reporting better performances.

However FHM is doing very well on the internet with FHM Online recording 1.6million unique users per month. And Loaded’s publisher, IPC Ignite, is bullish about the title’s future in print, pointing to new innovations such as its patented Flip-2-Strip covers which undress the front cover star.

Men’s gadget-based titles are in growth with Stuff’s number of actively purchased copies up by 9.3%, T3’s up 4.6% and Focus up 4%. And recent research by MarketForce using Tesco Clubcard information found that people who have stopped buying men’s magazines have moved onto more specialist leisure and sport titles.

That’s probably one of the reasons why Top Gear continues its growth, with circulation up 8.5%, making it the biggest motoring title. It has also overtaken Loaded to become the number three men’s monthly behind FHM and Men’s Health. It figures in the top 100 best-selling magazines list at number 67, worth £5.7m at retail.

In music magazines, it’s rock that’s driving circulation with Classic Rock recording 25% growth for July to December 2006 and Kerrang! up 12%. Metal Hammer was up 11%.

== Child’s play ==

The children’s magazine market is now worth £107m a year and is expected to grow as more new titles are launched. Seymour Marketing Services reports that pre-school mags saw a newstrade drop of 9% at the end of last year but predicts a boost from the soon-to-be- launched Underground Ernie and Charlie and Lola, both from BBC Magazines. However within the current market there was one star - Noddy Magazine which saw a 44% rise in actively purchased copies.

In the ’primary girls’ sector, licensed titles always tend to perform well. For example, Disney’s Princess saw 22% year on year growth in the newstrade. However Seymour reports that this sector is particularly susceptible to fads so getting the timing right to coincide with a new product or TV show is vital. Sales are also covermount-driven and are expected to become even more so.

In ’primary boys’ there is also loyalty to licensed product. Seymour cites The Simpsons comic as a prime example as it hangs on to high sales and has a good hold over the market. As with primary girls, covermounts are important for primary boys with a good covermount sometimes doubling sales. Seymour also reports that cover prices are increasing with more and more titles selling for £1.99 or more.

Finally, in the pre-teen sector, it was Doctor Who Adventures which had the best growth, up 36% in the newstrade. Publisher BBC Children’s Magazines says this was particularly satisfying as the Doctor Who TV show was off air at the time.


=== Driving sales ===

Following its successful forecourt campaign last year, Auto Trader is repeating the exercise. Using Alvern Media, the campaign is already under way and will run until October 2007 on 287,000 pump nozzles across the roadside, motorway and supermarket networks, on door graphics and on 400 of Alvern’s new 4-sheet posters. This will be complemented by counter-top flyer advertising at selected sites.

The aim is to follow the consumer’s ’forecourt journey’ from roadside to petrol pump through to the point of purchase.

Matt Thompson, marketing director, Trader Media Group, says: "By owning the forecourt journey, the consumer will be exposed to Auto Trader advertising at every stage from arriving at the forecourt, refuelling, entering the forecourt retail outlet and finally at the point of purchase."