Magazine article Marketing

It Had to Be Me

Magazine article Marketing

It Had to Be Me

Article excerpt

January will be the last time you'll see Me. But the demise of IPC's tender five-year-old reveals the ever-growing strength of women's magazines.

IPC's decision to axe Me magazine might, at first sight, indicate something of a crisis in women's magazines.

Me was trumpeted by IPC as the new major women's magazine to sit aside established titles, such as Woman and Woman's Own, on its launch in 1989.

But, despite the hype, the magazine struggled to find its own identity and keep pace with the more competitive editorial environment of the 90s.

From an initial circulation of 600,000, a steady decline set in, reaching freefall in recent months. Despite editorial revamps, circulation collapsed by 22% in the last audited period to 313,000 (Jan-June 1994). According to IPC, the latest issue sales showed another fall to 230,000.

Me's demise is an indicator not just of its own weakness, but of the strength of the weekly women's magazine market. What sets it apart from other sectors is the cross-consumption of its readers. No other consumer magazine area has loyal readers who will purchase three or more rival magazines with similar themes, every week.

But that means the readers know which magazines are the weakest on the newsagents' shelves and will leave them there. With so many alternatives on offer, Me's flagging sales appeared irreversible.

The title's decline, coupled with the launch of IPC's new title Eva, was enough to convince the company nothing more could be done to save Me. The knives came out and January's issue will be its last.

In the highly-competitive women's weekly market a half-million circulation figure is accepted as a prerequisite and ailing titles face the axe. But it wasn't always this way.

Until the late 80s, there was little movement in a market dominated by IPC titles including Woman, Woman's Own and Woman's Weekly. Readership was on a downward curve and there was thought to be no room in the market for new blood.

Then the Germans invaded. Gruner & Jahr stepped in with Best in August 1987, followed by Bauer, which two months later published Bella, selling more than a million copies. In 1990, Bauer launched Take A Break -- a weekly with a heavier emphasis on puzzles -- which has become the market leader. …

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