Consumer mag circ down 5.39%: ABC

Few of Canada's largest titles increased circ for the first half of 2010, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, but single-copy sales remain strong.

Many of Canada’s biggest magazine titles are having trouble holding on to subscribers, according to figures in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) FAS-FAX report for the period ending June 30, 2010.

Total paid and verified circulation for the 56 Canadian periodicals audited by ABC was down 5.39% over the previous year, and total paid subs were down 5.55%. But consumers are still spending money on magazines – they just prefer to buy them one copy at a time.

Single-copy sales were up 0.52% overall, likely boosted by the major rises in magazines like Maclean’s, which increased single-copy sales by 209%, L’actualite, a newsmagazine that boosted newsstand sales by 42.5%, and Canadian Geographic, which was up 37.3%.

Maclean’s, which has a total paid and verified circ of 362,099, was one of the few titles (with a readership in the six-figures or more) that increased overall circ, and this was a modest 2%, as the Rogers title’s subscriptions were down 3.7%. Canadian House and Home is also strong with an increase in total circ of 3.6%, but the largest gains in this category were made by gossip mag Hello! Canada with an overall and paid circ increase of 10.8%.

Chatelaine, which is one of the biggest titles in the country with a total paid and verified circ of 509,691, dropped by 7.6% while its competitor Canadian Living, which has a circ of 500,062, saw a decrease of 3.2%. Reader’s Digest, which according to ABC has the largest paid and verified circ in Canada of 699,174, fell by 17.9%.

But Tim Hughes, managing director, client leadership at MindShare Canada, is not as concerned about the drop in circulation, as these figures do not necessarily mean lower readership numbers, which are compiled by the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) two times per year.

‘For the most part the Canadian market trades on readership. We will validate any declines in circ against readership data via PMB,’ Hughes tells MiC.

Rival fashion titles Flare and Elle Canada also decreased in circulation by 5.8% and 3.9%, respectively.

French-language titles like Coup de Pouce and Elle Quebec are faring slightly better in their markets, the former decreasing by just 0.1% and the French-language Elle increasing circ 1.7% and single-copy sales by 19.1%.

The biggest improvements in circ were made by smaller, local titles like Montreal Centre-Ville, a city magazine with a circ of 40,630, which was up by 341.9%, and Hamilton Magazine, which was up 140.7% to total paid circ of 21,879.

Printed versions of magazines are just one way to reach readers, says Hughes – ‘wise publishers will invest in all the different ways their readers chose to find them.’ Recent redesigns by brands like Canadian Living and additional multi-platform coverage also show commitment on the part of publishers to court those eyeballs.

‘We continue to see investment by publishers with redesigns, etc., which is important to keep the brand fresh and appealing to their readers. Importantly, though, the printed version is just one way fans of the brand are accessing the content,’ Hughes says.