Men's mags say bye to boobs

In the men’s sector, the boobs-and-banter titles fell further out of favour while a newcomer pointed to a new trend in the market.

The overall figure for the sector has seen a small circulation increase of 1.1 per cent, up to 2.05 million – mainly due to London freebie Sport, which posted its debut ABC of 317,093 and, much to the objection of its rivals, has slipped in at the top spot. But without its readers actively purchasing the title, can it be compared with the rest of the sector?

Publisher Greg Miall argues that the difference is simply in the business model, while group MD of Emap Consumer Magazines Marcus Rich contests that the biggest demonstration of wanting a magazine is going to the newsstand and buying it.

The biggest rise in the sector came from BBC’s science and technology title, Focus, which was up 5.5 per cent year on year. However, overall the gadget end of the men’s market saw a few casualties – T3 and Smart Life International dropping out of the rat race.

Rival flesh-hungry weeklies have both seen year-on-year decreases. Nuts is now selling just over 90,000 copies more than Zoo per week on average, but has cut the cover price on 47,359 of its 277,269 average circulation per issue.

Loaded has has seen a hefty fall of 35 per cent year on year. The IPC title, edited by Martin Daubney, experimented with covers this period in an attempt to stand out on the newsstand. But June’s ‘king of comedy’covers, one with Borat nestling nicely with the First Lady of lads’ mags Pamela Anderson, was rumoured to have had sold as few as 70,000.

Condé Nast’s upmarket monthly, GQ, has seen a small increase of 0.9 per cent – going some way to backing up the claim of Condé Nast MD Nicholas Coleridge that the luxury end of the market is where it’s at. At 127,886, GQ is now ahead of Loaded, but 6,727 of these were regular bulk sales.

Sales figures for the sector leader (excluding Sport) FHM have seen another decrease of 25.9 per cent, but recent redesign of the title (with cover star Rachel Stevens almost fully clothed) sees the title moving in a different direction.

Emap’s Rich said the redesign is a reflection of the changes in men. ‘They’re a lot more serious; they require more information to get up the career ladder or improve their health. The repositioning is really a deeper understanding of how that consumer has changed, rather than a reaction to the copy sales.”

Emap stablemate, Arena, with a dip of 23.1 per cent is at the bottom of the sector. Former Sunday Times magazine journalist, Giles

Hattersley, has his work cut out at the helm to turn round another title running as fast as it can away from the lads sector by changing its form. It is now moving closer towards its ‘core DNA’– of serving the fashion-conscious man.

Natmags Men’s Health saw another rise, up 1.3 per cent year on year. Deputy editor Mike Shallcross said that the title was the most relevant for men because it did not polarise. ‘I think you can discuss intelligent issues without excluding people,’he said.

Esquire was up 2.1 per cent year on year, but the effects of its redesign under editor Jeremy Langmead won’t be seen until the next round of ABCs.

James Tye, CEO of Dennis UK, said that despite the sales slide for Maxim the brand remained strong – with website monthly unique users of 851,739. He admitted that the next ABC figure may suffer from the after-effects of the sale of Maxim in the US – a deal which limits the UK edition’s export territories.

With Maxim’s stablemate, online weekly lads’ mag Monkey, posting its second ABCe of 245,564, and a freebie topping the table with another one on the way, Monkey publisher James Mallinson said it is hard to see what the future holds: ‘No one has a crystal ball and I don’t think anyone could have anticipated two years ago what the market would have been like today. So to predict what it’s going to be like two years’ time? It would be a fool who would put their name to something like that.”

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