Teenage girl-focused mag Dolly dropped more than 30% of its print circulation in the second half of 2015, with the Bauer Media title set to go “digital first” with a bi-monthly magazine under sweeping changes planned at the publisher.
Dolly’s circulation dropped from 40,499 copies sold on average in July to December 2014 to 28,030 for the second half of 2015 – a 30.8% drop, year-on-year, according to the newest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures.
The drop is even more remarkable given the magazine shifted 40,546 copies in the first half of 2015.
Its also sees its print sales slip back below its biggest rival, the Pacific Magazines-owned Girlfriend, which posted a July to December circulation of 35,686 – 16.5% down on the 42,723 circulation figure the title posted in the same period the year before.
Peter Zavecz, CEO of Pacific Magazines, told Mumbrella the publisher is “very impressed” with Girlfriend.
Zavecz “impressed” with Girlfriend
“Our brand, Girlfriend, is clearly number-one-selling but even in total audience it’s grown to over 2.3m when you include our social and digital channels,” he said.
“For us, it was a terrific test case of how we go to market with advertisers now. That brand was under pressure, as you’ve seen with the Dolly print brand, Girlfriend was under pressure but we’ve been able to turn that around and make it an extremely profitable title by selling a total audience to advertisers across all our channels.
“It’s sad that Dolly has had to reduce its print product,” he added.
Bauer Media interim CEO, Andreas Schoo, did not acknowledge Dolly’s declines, focusing instead on the success of The Australian Women’s Weekly.
The highest-selling magazine in the country, The Australian Women’s Weekly saw its circulation slip by 7.3% to sit on 400,810.
“Bauer Media are the number one media company in Australia and when it comes to understanding women and are home to the biggest-selling monthly magazine (The Australian Women’s Weekly) and the highest selling weekly magazine (Woman’s Day),” Schoo said, in a statement.
“Magazines continue to be an incredibly important medium to engage with Australians and the strength of our brands allows us to talk to more consumers more often through print, digital, social and live experience channels.”
Related: What does Bauer Media need to do to become a real force again?
Steve Allen, principal of Fusion Strategy, told Mumbrella it was “fantastic” the magazine was above 400,000.
“I thought it was just brilliant. It’s showing you that even when you’re still investing in high-quality journalism, it’s very hard to hang on to your circulation,” he said.
However, it will be a tough challenge for the new AWW editor Kim Wilson, who replaces Helen McCabe, who resigned from the post in January, to maintain the magazine’s circulation above the 400,000 mark.
Commenting on Wilson’s appointment, Allen said: “A new editor has to be hired with the promise that they can do better, they’ve got new ideas and a new approach.
“Kim Wilson is a very seasoned and a very experienced magazine editor. She has a strong track record. The seriousness in the in-depth stories will lighten up under her editorship,” he said.
Bauer Media stable-mate Cosmopolitan saw its circulation drop by 21.7%, year-on-year, to 64,278 from 82,112.
Elle Australia, also owned by Bauer Media, and competing in the tough young women’s category, saw its circulation dip below the 60,000 mark for the first time. For the July to December period, the title posted a circ of 57,544 down from 60,324 – a drop of 4.6%.
Final circulation numbers for the soon-to-be-defunct Cleo were not included in the audit.
Pacific Magazines’ Marie Claire fared well, posting a circulation decline of 0.6% year-on-year, remaining largely steady, with the title selling (on average) 80,106 copies a month compared with 80,618 for the same period in 2014.
The latest numbers also show the shine has come off one-time darling of the print media Frankie, which showed circulation declines for a third survey in succession. Frankie posted a year-on-year drop of 13.6% from 61,427 copies sold on average per month in the December 2014 quarter to 53,053 in the December 2015 quarter.
Fusion Strategy’s Allen said: “Titles that went against the trend for a long time, like Frankie, are now finding their bubble has burst.”
Looking at the food category, NewsLifeMedia’s Taste.com.au print magazine saw a slight upturn in circulation, posting 0.2% growth, selling an extra 117 copies in the second half of last year compared with the same time period in 2014. In the most recent December quarter, Taste.com.au’s magazine posted a circulation of 77,169 compared with its December 2014 quarter circulation of 77,052.
NewsLifeMedia’s Donna Hay also posted growth, with circulation up 0.9% from 81,844 copies in July to December 2014 to 82,592 sold in the same period last year.
However, NewsLifeMedia’s premium food magazine Delicious saw a very slight decline in circulation, posting a circulation of 90,857 for the July to December period compared with 91,147 copies sold on average per month in the same period in 2014.
NewsLifeMedia’s Superfood Ideas was also hit hard, posting a year-on-year circulation decline of 19.8%, dropping from 130,039 in the December 2014 quarter to 104,271 in the most recent December quarter.
Looking at the homes and gardens category, Pacific Magazines’ Better Homes & Garden continues to dominate the category despite a circulation decline of 8%.
Better Homes & Gardens posted a July to December circulation of 330,017 – down from 355,668 in the same period in 2014.
NewsLifeMedia’s Inside Out posted growth of 10.6%, up from 45,139 to 49,909.
NewsLifeMedia CEO Nicole Sheffield said in a statement: “I’m very pleased with our circulation results this audit; all of our home titles increased, with Inside Out achieving the largest rate of growth, year-on-year, in the homes category; we now have the top four food titles in the country, with numbers overall being stable.”
Australian House & Garden, owned by Bauer Media, dropped below the 100,000 mark for the first time since mid 2009.
The magazine posted a circulation of 98,130, down from 112,062 at the end of 2014, which is a decline of 12.4%.
Pacific Magazine’s Australian Home Beautiful saw its circulation dip by 4.5%, landing on 84,163 copies shifted per month.
Real Living, owned by Bauer Media, witnessed its circulation dive by 10% to sit at 72,026. At the end of 2014, on average, the magazine shifted 80,055 copies per month.
Bauer Media’s Homes+, which launched in August 2014, posted its first year-on-year figures with the title’s circulation down 4.30%.
For the end of 2015, the magazine posted a circulation of 48,044 – down from its end-of-2014 circulation of 50,179.
Bauer Media’s Belle magazine saw its circulation drop by 2.7%, but remained above the 40,000 mark, ending the year at 41,143.
The fitness and health category on whole performed poorly, with the exception of Pacific Magazine’s Prevention magazine. It posted the strongest growth out of the non-weekly magazines, jumping 26.3% year-on-year, up to 59,016 copies from 46,744 in 2014.
It follows Pacific Magazines making the title bi-monthly in June 2014.
Pacific Magazines’ Zavecz said: “If you look at Prevention, it was in the same boat as Dolly. It was a monthly magazine that we reformatted to be a bi-monthly.
“We found buyers and readers weren’t getting through it in time for the next edition. Going bi-monthly can raise your average issue audience quite markedly.”
Pacific Magazines’ Women’s Health saw its circulation slide by 12.6% to sit on 66,031, while Pac Mags’ stablemate Men’s Health saw its circulation dip by 8.9% to fall below the 50,000 mark for the first time.
The title shifted, on average 48,004, copies a month for the July to December period last year, compared with the 52,714 copies it sold in the same time period in 2014.
Bauer Media’s Good Health posted a circulation decline of 11.20% from 57,638 at the end of 2014 to 51,211 at the end of last year.