ABCs: Frankie falls for the first time as teen titles bleed more readers

FrankieFrankie Magazine has seen its circulation drop away for the first time in the magazine’s history, while Dolly’s numbers dropped by 40 per cent according to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations covering the six months ending in December 2014.

The title dropped from an average of 63,645 copies shifted a month over the same period last year to 61,427, a fall of 3.5 per cent. The previous two audits saw circulation gains of 4.4 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively, with a circulation of 67,782 in the last audit of monthly magazines last year.

Frankie’s decline in circulation follows the Pacific Star Network (PSN) acquiring its publisher Morrison Media for $10m last November. The buyout followed on from the departure of the original co-founders of Frankie Press Lara Burke and Louise Bannister one year ago.

Frankie general manager Gaye Murray told Mumbrella that the publication had always known that it’s circulation would have ups and downs.

“We always anticipated, however, that our local copy sales could not increase forever,” she said in a statement.

“As a niche title, we are committed to balancing growth with the core values of our brand. Being the biggest magazine has never been our goal. Jo Walker, who has edited the magazine for the last seven years, continues to do an amazing job steering the brand.”
Gaye also pointed to growth both online and overseas for the title.
The brand has experienced a 13.9% year-on-year circulation increase in New Zealand, and is more visible than ever in Europe and North America,” she said
“We are also excited about our expanding influence in the online space. Over the last year, we have had a 38 percent increase in Facebook likes. We have also gained 52,000 new Instagram followers and the Frankie iPad app is enjoying a 20% conversion rate.”

Asked if the departure of the founders had contributed to the decline Steve Allen, principal of Fusion Strategy, said: “It’s not a direct relationship, but yes. It’s the fact the passionate owners who crafted it and pasted each edition together themselves have left the building.

“It may be a coincidence, but it’s usually what happens. When you’ve got really inspired people that produce something that’s very different to what else is available in the market and they nurture it to life and attract a growing audience, when they leave the building usually circulation plateaus pretty quickly. It doesn’t have the same soul anymore.”

dolly magBauer Media’s Dolly magazine recorded the single biggest fall amongst the audited titles, losing a huge 42.2 per cent of its circulation compared to a year before. Dolly’s circulation fell from 70,083 for the period July to December 2013 to 40,499 for the same period in 2014. In the previous audit period for the six months ending June 2014 the magazine suffered a similar decline.

The company’s other young women’s title, Cleo also lost ground, slipping from 66,325 copies to 50,108, a drop of almost 25 percent.

The pain was not limited to Bauer in the female teen and young women’s lifestyle section, with rival Pacific Magazine’s Girlfriend seeing its circulation drop by 22.30 per cent from 55,012 to 42,723.

Fellow Pac Mags title Total Girl also saw its circulation fall away, dropping by 29.2 per cent, down from 49,020 to 34,721.

Newly installed Bauer CEO David Goodchild remained upbeat in the face of the figures, saying in a statement the company’s magazine titles had a bright future. “Bauer Media is the powerhouse behind Australia’s best-loved magazine brands, with 5.1 million copies sold every month across 39 audited titles,” he said.

“Bauer maintains market leadership with 51.6 per cent share of copy sales – up from 49.0 per cent YOY.”

The company’s flagship title Australian Women’s Weekly fared better , experiencing a decline of a relatively modest 4.2 per cent, dropping from 451,235 to 432,286.

Other women’s lifestyle titles saw declines including; Bauer’s Cosmopolitan dropping 9.2 per cent; Pac Mags’ Marie Claire and InStyle magazines both losing 9.4 per cent of their circulation.

The health and wellbeing sector also saw losses with Bauer’s Weight Watchers title losing 19.5 per cent of its circulation and Pacific Magazines’ Men’s Health losing 19.3 per cent. Car titles also performed poorly with Bauer’s Top Gear losing 19.8 per cent circulation, Deals on Wheels losing 20.7 per cent and Just Auto’s Just 4x4s losing 27.4 per cent and its Just Trucks and Heavy Equipment losing 24.6 per cent.

Allen said the biggest issues for most magazine titles was the fact the content they offered was available online for free.

“With magazines there is a timing issue for certain types of editorial. In the case of monthly magazines, the biggest challenge for the titles who are still getting substantial double digit declines, the content is largely available elsewhere online. It’s tripping them up. It’s making the proposition of paying $7, $8 or $9 cover price pretty unattractive,” he said.

Fairfax’s AFR Smart Investor saw is circulation dive by 34 per cent, slipping from 34,045 to 23,130 year-on-year.

c7400-AFL2014-Cover_WebWhile there were few positive notes amid near universal falls in circulation figures one bright spot was the big jump experienced by The AFL Record published by AFL Media.

The title boosted its circulation by 34.3 per cent from 20,995 to 28,196.

On titles boosting their circulation Allen said: “About ten magazines actually increased circulation in this audit on last year, and that’s remarkable.”

Australian Traveller saw the second biggest circulation increase, recording a boost of 15.1 per cent, shifting on average an extra 1,515 copies a month during the sixth month period ending December 2014 compared to the same period the previous year.

Sport Fishing Australia Magazine and Freshwater Fishing Australia posted circulation increases of 10 per cent and 8.30 per cent respectively.

Home and garden titles also did well, with Pacific Magazines’ Australian Home Beautiful increasing circulation by 2.30 per cent and News Life Media’s Vogue Living recording a circulation increase of 1.80 per cent.

Of the fashion titles Bauer Media’s Harper’s Bazaar grew its circulation by 0.1 per cent while News Life Media’s Vogue boosted its circulation by 1.8 per cent.

NewsLifeMedia’s CEO Nicole Sheffield said: “NewsLifeMedia is focused on being consumer led. Our brands offer compelling content, deep engagement and trust and they can be consumed on any platform or device or in print.

“We have some of the most powerful and trusted brands in this country and through continuous evolution we are delivering market leading products and platforms. As reflected in the results delivered by both Vogue Australia and Vogue Living in this audit.”

Bi-monthly fashion title Russh, owned by Switzer Media and Publishing, increased its circulation by 0.6 per cent.

Trade a Boat and Club Marine grew their circulations by 0.7 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively while The Big Issue also boosted its circulation numbers by 6.3 per cent to 30,846 copies.

Robert Burton-Bradley

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