Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Women's Titles Break Cover Price Barriers; Rising Costs Lead Publishers to Boost Circulation Revenue

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Women's Titles Break Cover Price Barriers; Rising Costs Lead Publishers to Boost Circulation Revenue

Article excerpt

Women's titles break cover price barriers

New York City--Reluctant to pass on increasing costs to advertisers, several leading women's magazines are raising cover prices, with other major magazines expected to follow.

Primary competitors Woman's Day and Family Circle both raised cover prices from 99 cents to $1.09, while McCall's--for the first time in six years--broke the $1.50 barrier, pricing its title at $1.69.

The price hikes stem from rising manufacturing costs, especially of paper, which, for most publishers, has risen nearly 25 percent in the last year. At Family Circle, paper accounts for more than 50 percent of the magazine's manufacturing costs. If costs were passed on to Family Circle advertisers, the ad rate increase would have ranged as high as 12 percent, says publisher Charles Townsend.

More than 70 percent of Family Circle's circulation--or 4.2 million--is single-copy sales. Woman's Day is even more reliant on newsstands--about 98 percent of its 5.3 million circulation.

Drop-offs in unit sales will be more than offset by increased circulation revenue, the publishers agree. Townsend anticipates an initial decline of as much as 5 percent--or 210,000 readers--with recovery to a net loss of 2 percent or less. Woman's Day publisher Anne Fuchs lowered the magazine's rate base only slightly, 0.9 percent, because of the price increase. Apparently, the drop-off will be absorbed by strong bonus circulation levels, which averaged 3.6 percent in the second half of 1987.

Neither Woman's Day nor Family Circle had discussed the price increase with the other, Townsend says. Both had been testing price levels ranging up to $1.25.

Townsend, in fact, says he was relieved to hear that Woman's Day had also decided to raise its price. "One of our biggest concerns was that Woman's Day would not follow," he recalls. …

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