Price cutting from newcomers hits established titles hard

The battle for real life readers hit the established titles hard as new entrants slashed their cover price in a bid to muscle in on the market.

Every real life title was down year on year as new entrants Love It! and Real People took their slice of the market share.

The innovator in the sector — IPC's Pick Me Up — was down 13.7 per cent year on year to 424,410. The 2005 launch was credited with sparking a launch frenzy that produced Love It!

and Real People. Both titles maintained an ABC figure at their initial target — of over 400,000 for News Magazines'

Love It! and 300,000 for Natmags' Real People.

Both titles slashed their price to 30p during launch period, from a regular 60p. Sylvia Auton, IPC CEO, announced last week that Pick Me Up would increase its cover price to 65p in a bid to "take the lead". She said the younger facing weekly was "still outselling the copycats despite their perpetual price cutting to get sales".

Colin Morrison, MD of ACPNatmags, which publishes Real People, admitted that the 60p launch price was "not very sensible".

He said: "We are not necessarily happy to sell Real People at 60p. It might have been one of the mistakes early on but we will learn from that."

Love It! publisher Augusta Barnes denied the title had engaged in price cutting. "We haven't price cut at all — we have price promoted," she said.

"They are very different marketing promotions.

We have price promoted to draw more people into Love It! than would maybe buy at 60p. It's a tactic — longer-term price-cutting is not a marketing tactic that I would employ."

The title, the only one to show growth in the last six-month period, was News International's first foray into magazines, and has benefited from extensive advertising and promotion through the newspaper wing of the corporation.

The resources available from News International had been "integral"

to the magazine's success, according to its publisher.

"We can move much faster than anyone else in this market," said Barnes. "If you book a TV campaign you lay it down two months in advance of it actually appearing on air, but with the papers we can react the next day."

The traditional titles suffered further sales decline as a result of the new entrants. Bauer's Take a Break maintained its dominance at the top with 1,027,013 weekly sales, but the title was down 11.1 per cent year on year.

Fellow traditional real life weeklies IPC's Chat and Bauer's That's Life were also down — 10.8 and 15.5 per cent respectively. The classic women's weeklies all took a hit as IPC's Woman, Women's Weekly and Woman's Own, and ACP-Natmags Best showed declines year on year. ACP-Natmags'

Morrison said: "The sector has had two big launches but didn't grow to support that — it's probable that 50 per cent of the combined circulation of these is from existing magazines, which is obviously less good for all of us."

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