Family Circle's 'housewife heritage led to its downfall'

Family Circle's "heritage" as the magazine of choice for the family-focused housewife had become its downfall, its publisher has claimed.

The IPC title, a practical family food and household guide launched in 1964 and initially sold exclusively in supermarkets, revealed on Tuesday that is to close and has been struggling to compete in a modern monthly market more based on aspirational cooking and lifestyle.

Despite a number of revamps, the title is selling about a third of what it did 10 years ago — down to 112,597 in the last ABC period. At its peak in 1988, when IPC bought it from International Thompson Publishing, Family Circle sold 625,000 copies.

The December edition of Family Circle will be its last. IPC said it was currently in consultation with the 12 staff affected and that "every effort will be made to find alternative jobs".

IPC SouthBank managing director Jackie Newcombe said: "We're in a very different society now from when the magazine launched [42 years ago] and newer readers weren't prepared to buy into that franchise, a magazine called Family Circle because of what they associated with it — representing a lifestyle and an age that's gone by.

"In effect it was the enormous heritage of the brand that we couldn't shift people's perceptions [of] and move it on, even though the magazine had moved on."

Newcombe rejected the suggestion that other ageing IPC titles such as Woman's Weekly and Woman, which had a £3.2 million makeover this Spring, might suffer from the same perception of being out of date.

She said: "Family Circle launched in supermarkets and its whole brand perception was associated with food and family food. As supermarkets started to take more magazines, its point of difference started to be eroded. Woman is in a much different position because it's got a much broader editorial platform, a weekly frequency and a bigger circulation."

Newcombe accepted that glossier, aspirational women's monthlies for over 35s have stolen a march on Family Circle in recent years, such as the market leader, Natmags' Good Housekeeping, which sells almost half a million copies a month, according to the ABCs.

But she added: "Ironically there is quite a family moment emerging, where the notion of staying at home with your family is gaining credibility. But Family Circle is still associated with a lifestyle that a lot of women believed had passed."

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