MEDIA: MEN’S MAGAZINES - Lifestyle mags take aim at everyman/Ladmags appear to have hit a high water mark in sales, and it is now the more upmarket men’s magazines which are growing their readership

Greg Williams’ appointment as the editor of Arena last month came at an interesting time for the men’s magazine market. After steady growth throughout the 1990s, the summer’s ABC figures showed a decline in some of the key titles for the first time.

Greg Williams’ appointment as the editor of Arena last month came

at an interesting time for the men’s magazine market. After steady

growth throughout the 1990s, the summer’s ABC figures showed a decline

in some of the key titles for the first time.



Williams’ appointment represents an attempt by Arena owner EMAP Metro -

which bought the magazine along with its publisher Wagadon in August -

to consolidate its market position. That EMAP promoted Williams, an

internal candidate, rather than parachuting one of its own people in is

an indication of how carefully the company is approaching the task.



Arena occupies a slot at the top end of the market, attracting an urbane

readership, but recently lost a little of its elite appeal. ’It became

too Old St and not enough Bond St,’ says Williams, referring to the

seriously fashionable area north of the City. ’It needs to reiterate its

point of difference.’



The magazine will now slug it out with GQ, which is similarly in the

process of returning to its core values after a spell under ex-Loaded

editor James Brown which took the title a little downmarket.



Neither GQ (which had an ABC figure of 145,144 for the first half of

this year) or Arena (46,777) see themselves in competition with the more

laddish end of the market: FHM, Loaded and Maxim. It is the phenomenal

success of these titles that has really put the men’s magazine market on

the map, but the ladmags now seem to have hit a peak in sales.



FHM’s readership fell for the first time in the first half of this year,

by 50,000 to 701,089. The figure is still huge - especially compared to

the women’s sector, where titles like Cosmopolitan are stuck below

500,000 - but the men’s magazines are now looking for growth from

international expansion. Maxim has blazed a trail in the US with some

success and has just launched in Israel, while FHM recently produced its

first French edition.



These titles will also have to defend their existing territory from all

sides. The mid-market is being attacked by newcomer Front (which has

built to 140,154 after launching last year) and is trying to appeal to a

more junior audience with a brash editorial approach.



At the other end of the market, there is Later - a new IPC project which

aims to take readers growing out of stable-mate Loaded and move them to

a more thinking read. Later, launched earlier this year, has no ABC

figures yet but is expected to sell between 150,000 and 200,000 - a

healthy sign for the upmarket approach to men’s lifestyle

publishing.



ARENA



Circulation: 46,777



Reach: ABC1 male, 25- to 35-years-old



Frequency: monthly



Editor: Greg Williams



’The way I see it, there are two sides to the men’s market. There is the

FHM end with Loaded, Front and Maxim, which are not really our

competition.



Then there is our end, with GQ. Later and Esquire are in the middle.



FHM is a wicked mag and a fantastic brand - what they have done is an

amazing achievement - but they are different from us.



’The whole market has been slipping a bit recently, as people are

getting tired of the whole lad thing. Readers want a mag that says

something about them when they buy it. The market is becoming more

diversified too, which is good for Arena.



’Arena has always been the most prestigious of the men’s magazines and

is known internationally in a way that none of the others are. This

means it can deliver the big names in photography, writing and

styling.



’But the Arena message has recently become more mixed - we have been

representing things that were not aspirational enough. Under my

editorship, it will return to core values.



’Our target reader is the smart, sophisticated, urbane, reasonably

affluent man, who is a leader and makes up his own mind about things. He

does not want puerile humour or second-rate images, he is cool and

sussed, probably 25 to 35. It is up to us to deliver the most stylish,

sophisticated magazine to keep these readers.’



FHM



Circulation: 701,089



Reach: ABC1, 28:22 male:female split, 18- to 34-year-olds



Frequency: monthly



Editor: Anthony Noguera



’If you had asked me three years ago who the FHM reader was, I would

have said 28-years-old, middle or upper management, in a serious

relationship and thinking about getting married. Today that is still who

we aim at, but the last reader profile we had was so much broader - from

15- to 50-years-old. And a recent NRS survey revealed that 22 per cent

of our readership were female. The magazine has become a crossover

thing.



We pitch it at 29-year-olds thinking of becoming 30 and it works in two

ways: if you are older, it is nice to think you are younger and if you

are younger, it is nice to think you are older.



’What has changed a bit is that people have more money now, so we may be

subconsciously aiming the mag at people with money to spend - we have

done plenty of things on horses, for example.



’Later is similar in that way and I think it is finding its niche. It is

quite chummy and comforting, telling readers things like how to get on

at work. It has a sexy cover this month, but the men’s market is about

much more than that. If it was all about breasts, all the magazines

would sell the same, but we sell many more and we have less breasts.



’We also aim things at readers’ girlfriends - I would hate it if they

were put off by anything in the mag.’



GQ



Circulation: 145,144



Reach: ABC1 males, 28- to 35-years-old



Frequency: monthly



Editor: Dylan Jones



’GQ readers have always been the same: 28- to 35-year-old ABC1 men,

probably single, and metropolitan. But it is important that the issues

and the tone of the magazine come first, rather than a target

audience.



’We will simply pick up the readers who like what we do. Some of the

younger men’s magazines have a more closely-defined targeting, but what

we are trying to do at GQ is to move away from the similar feel of the

lads mags and do something that does not just reflect a modern

hedonism.



’We are attempting to do this by aiming high - making sure the calibre

of writers is higher than those on other magazines. We are trying to

create more of a magazine for reading, with high quality writing and

ideas, but without being the literary review.



’I think it is completely possible to have a sexy mag which also has

great journalism in it. All the new magazines that are coming in seem to

be going in at the lower end of the market, probably because there is

more money to be made short-term by focusing on that end.



’Some of them are very well put together. But we think the market will

gradually end up coming towards us because a lot of men are growing out

of magazines like Loaded and becoming more sophisticated.’



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