ABCs: Bauer Media’s Cosmopolitan’s circulation plummets to Cleo levels

Bauer Media’s prospects continue to look troubled despite making necessary cuts to its magazine portfolio this year, with Hearst joint-venture Cosmopolitan seeing its print circulation for the first half of the year plummet to below 50,000.


In the first six months of last year Cosmo was shifting, on average, 77,181 copies a month and is now down to 43,299, according to the newest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures.

Cosmopolitan was the magazine Bauer Media was attempting to protect with the closure of rival Cleo, with the belief that the two titles were cannibalising each other.

It is a disastrous result for the magazine considering Bauer Media’s Cleo was given the chop when it sat at a circulation of 42,212.

Speaking with Mumbrella, Bauer Media CEO Nick Chan declared Cosmopolitan as “safe”.

“In all of these areas we can do a better job. Cosmo is distinct from Cleo, as Cleo was a local magazine and we had to generate a fair amount of editorial ourselves, whereas Cosmo is a licensed product, a joint-venture with Hearst and we have the advantage of being able to pick up international content on this; it has a lower cost base,” he said.

Chan would not be drawn on what the plan is for Cosmo; however, he rejected speculation that the magazine would go bi-monthly.

Meanwhile, Dolly has bounced back from its poor performance in the second half of last year when its circulation dropped to 28,030.

The teenage girl-focused magazine posted a January to June circulation of 30,010. So while it is a 26% drop on the title’s circulation from January to June last year when it stood at 40,546, its figures are up on the end of the year, suggesting Bauer’s decision to change the title to bi-monthly has proved positive for the masthead.

Said Chan: “It works for Dolly at the moment. I’d rather a higher frequency within this marketplace but at the same time the pick-up is encouraging.”

Nick Chan: "We need to adapt to consumer demand"

Nick Chan: “We need to adapt to consumer demand”

Chan did not rule out Bauer re-instating Dolly as a monthly magazine.

“We will look at these markets with a pretty open mind in terms of what we need to do. If anything what we’ve seen in the past four to five years is the consumer has more choice, more options and is probably more demanding than ever before,” he said.

“Magazines have always published to publishing cycles that have suited its internal workings, and in the years to come we need to adapt to consumer demand.”

The result puts Dolly closer to rival Girlfriend, which saw its circulation dip by 17.3%, year-on-year.


The Pacific Magazines-owned mag posted a January to June print circulation of 31,043 – down from the 37,541 average copies per month it was selling throughout the same period last year.

Peter Zavecz, CEO of Pacific Magazines, told Mumbrella: “Remember, Dolly is bi-monthly now so they got that circulation over two months, not one. That category is tough. Our focus on millennials is certainly mobile-first; you’ve seen that with Famous and we’ll be watching this category closely.

“More and more that particular audience is getting tougher to target with just print alone and we’ve recognised that, and certainly that ScMo [social-mobile] strategy will be something we’ll be working on developing very quickly for this young millennials market.”

When asked if Pacific Magazines was considering a digital-first, bi-monthly strategy similar to that of Bauer Media’s Dolly, Zavecz would say only: “We have a number of options on the table and we’re reviewing them.”

In another blow to Bauer Media, the highest-selling magazine in the country, The Australian Women’s Weekly has seen its circulation slip below the 400,000 figure for the first time.

In the first half of the year, the women’s magazine was shifting, on average, 375,036 copies per month compared with the 416,117 it was selling every month in the first half of last year. That’s a decline of 9.9%.

Chan rejected the notion the result was a reflection on new editor Kim Wilson.

“I’m sure Kim, being the perfectionist she is, would be disappointed; however, she was not at the helm of the magazine during that time,” he said.

“Kim is a determined young woman and she was responsible for the Sam Armytage issue and I’m looking forward to her her editorship over the Women’s Weekly. She’ll do great things with it.”

Women's Weekly

Bauer Media’s Elle Australia, which competes in the tough young women’s category, saw its circulation dip 7.9%, year-on-year, from 60,139 in the first half of 2015 to 55,398 this year.

Pacific Magazines’ Marie Claire saw its print circulation slide below 80,000 for the first time after posting a circulation decline of 9.9%.

The young women’s magazine was selling an average of 80,422 copies a month in the first half of 2015; however, in the first six months of 2016, Marie Claire was, on average, shifting 72,438 copies per month.

Zavecz could be set to depart Pacific Magazines in favour of News Corp

Zavecz: Would we like Marie Claire to be above 80,000? Sure.

Said Zavecz: “Marie Claire is still 30% higher than our friends at Elle and Bauer. It’s a tough market out there – in terms of share we’re leaders and we want to maintain that in print but we’re focused on building out our audiences across all platforms. We’re starting to see some interesting stuff with Marie Claire with Styled by Marie Claire and some of the apps.

“Would we like to be above 80,000? Sure, would we like to be over 100,000? Absolutely. The position we have is very strong vie our competitors.”

Bauer Media’s Harper’s Bazaar remained steady with a minute circulation growth of 0.8% from 52,239 copies last year to 52,661 copies this year – that’s an extra 422 copies per month, on average.

The latest numbers show that one-time print media darling, Frankie, continues to see its year-on-year circulation drop, posting a decline of 9.8% from 60,447 in the first half of 2015, to 54, 531 in the first half of 2016.

However, when compared with the end of 2015, when Frankie on average was selling 53,053 copies each month, it is a positive for the magazine, with the title shifting an extra, on average, 1,478 copies a month in the first half of this year, compared with the end of last year.


Looking at the food category, NewsLifeMedia’s saw its circulation slide by 7.6%, dropping from 77,485 to 71,578.

NewsLifeMedia’s bi-monthly Donna Hay magazine also saw its circulation slip, sliding below the 80,000 figure to show a decline of 11.6%.

On average, the food magazine was shifting 82,147 copies each month in the first half of last year; however, in the first six months of 2016, Donna Hay was selling, on average, 72,619 copies each month.

NewsLifeMedia’s premium food magazine, Delicious, also posted a decline – with its circulation slipping below the 90,000 mark to post a decline of 4.1% – down from 91,773 copies per month to 88,021 copies per month.

The pain for NewsLifeMedia continued with Superfood Ideas’ circulation dropping below the 100,000 mark for the first time.

Superfood Ideas posted a circulation decline of 11.7% down from 103,891 in the first half of last year to 91,711 in the first half of this year.

Looking at the homes and gardens category, Pacific Magazines’ Better Homes & Gardens continues to be the market leader, with a circulation of 310,556, an increase of 0.10% from the 310,236 copies on average it sold in the first half of last year.

Better Homes & Gardens

Zavecz said: “Better Homes has always been true to its brand position. It’s really been focused on middle market, middle Australia, it’s service journalism is something that doesn’t date, it’s there to help Australian families improve their lives and we’re being true to our brand.

“It’s interesting to see something like Women’s Weekly drop under 400,000 for the first time and that gap between us and Women’s Weekly has really narrowed now to about 55,000.”

It was the only increase in the sector, with NewsLifeMedia’s Inside Out posting a decline of 3.70% from 47,377 to 35,628, while Pacific Magazines’ Australian Home Beautiful was down 7.20% from 88,736 to 82,339.

Bauer Media’s Australian House & Garden fell from 103,041 to 94,028 – a drop of 8.70%; while Bauer’s Real Living declined 13% from 76,009 to 66,142; and Bauer’s Homes+ dropped 20.20% from 50,406 to 40,235.

Bauer’s Belle was down 1.80% from 42,063 to 41,287 while Vogue Living saw its print circulation drop by 1.1% from 41,659 to 41,218. Country Style declined 1.10% from 62,122.

However, it was the homes category that NewsLifeMedia CEO Nicole Sheffield singled out.

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“While we experienced some ups and downs in the audit our circulation results are, overall, stable. Our home titles continue to increase with Vogue Living and Country Style achieving the largest rate of growth, year-on-year, in the homes category; our share of the food category has increased to 73.1% – with the top four food titles in the country; and Vogue Australia continues to grow in the fashion category,” she said.

Vogue Living and Country Style’s growth came in “total sales” – print and digital combined.

Examining total sales saw Vogue Living post a growth of 0.6% – from 42,737 total sales last year to 42,986 total sales this year, with 1,768 of these being digital sales.

Country Style’s total sales grew by 0.5% from 62,836 to 63,164, with digital responsible for 1,735 of that number.

Said Sheffield said: “We’re content creators in a market where the delivery of content has no boundaries. Our brands offer compelling content, deep engagement and overall trust, and through this we will continue to deliver results that move consumers from connection to engagement.”

In the health and fitness category, Pacific Magazines’ Prevention managed to scrape in just above 50,000 with a bi-monthly circulation of 50,083, down from 58,845.

Women’s Health, also owned by Pacific Magazines, saw its circulation drop by 19.2% from 70,009 to 56,598, while stablemate Men’s Health posted a circulation of 43,487, down from 50,011.Women's Health

Said Zavecz: “The Women’s Health result is pretty good, it’s overtaken Cosmo for the first time; we’re pretty chuffed about that.”

Bauer Media’s Good Health posted a circulation decline of 18.7%, from 55,381 to 45,044.

The automotive sector fared well, with Bauer Media’s Motor growing its circulation by 5.7% from 18,633 in the first half of 2015 to 19,687 in the first six months of 2016.

Bauer Media’s Wheels also held steady with a minor circulation growth of of 0.90%.

In the January to July period of 2015 the car magazine was selling, on average, 39,142 copies a week, while in the first half of this year it was selling, on average, 39,511 copies a month.


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