MEDIA: Boom ahead for business mags

The UK’s business magazine market is set for a major boom with the number of publications expected to grow by 29 per cent to 680 titles by 2001, according to a new report from the Periodical Publishers Association.

The UK’s business magazine market is set for a major boom with the

number of publications expected to grow by 29 per cent to 680 titles by

2001, according to a new report from the Periodical Publishers

Association.



While the rate of growth marks a slow down from the 48 per cent

witnessed over the past five years, it far outstrips the 20 per cent

growth for consumer magazines since 1991.



The PPA ‘Media Convergence and the Business Press’ a survey of 34 UK

business publishers, shows that, far from abandoning paper in favour of

Internet sites, magazines will continue to be publishers’ core products

for some time.



The growth in the sector is expected to come from the launch of more

tightly targeted magazines across all sectors. The IT and computing

sectors, which have seen the greatest increase in launch activity over

recent years, are both expected to continue to see strong competition.



As well as increasing the number of titles available, the business

publishing market is also set to see a major increase in activity in

areas related to core titles. The number of business directories is

expected to grow by more than 55 per cent during the next five years to

around 235 directories.



Meanwhile, the number of business magazine publishers producing

electronic products rose to 48 per cent over the past five years and is

forecast to reach 64 per cent by 2001. CD-ROMs are expected to account

for the largest chunk of electronic publishing despite current forays

into launching Internet sites.



The number of exhibitions, as brand extensions to core magazine brands,

rose by 76 per cent between 1991 and 1996 and is set to grow by 48 per

cent by 2001. EMAP Business Communications, publisher of Retail Week and

Shop Equipment News, has announced that it is launching Retail 97, a new

exhibition, despite the fact that it already operates the International

Spring and Autumn Fairs and the Retail Solution Exhibition.



But can the market sustain so many magazines? And do people really have

the time to read them as well as visiting conferences and exhibitions?

The PPA’s deputy chief executive Peter Dear says yes.



‘Business is becoming more specialised and therefore there are more

opportunities for dedicated titles for the business-to-business arena,’

he says. ‘We will see further spin-offs from existing titles and,

because the industry is driven from the bottom too, we will see new

titles. We are going to see fresh ground in all areas.’



The PPA report ‘Power of Business Magazines’ supports this view. The

survey of 1000 business people across 20 sectors found that the average

number of titles read by decision makers across all sectors was 3.7.

Nearly all - 95 per cent - of respondents regularly read at least one

business magazine specific to their industry.



National newspapers were the second source regularly used, (59 per cent)

closely followed by direct mail (55 per cent) and conferences and

exhibitions (54 per cent).



General business magazines such as Business Age and Management Today,

scored poorly (36 per cent), falling behind the regional press (39 per

cent). However, as the convergence between traditional media and

electronic media progresses, business publishers will not only be

competing with each other but with companies such as Microsoft or

Reuters.



‘The key issue for business publishers is what the shape of business

publishing is going to be, given that there are all these new electronic

opportunities,’ says Dear. ‘At the moment business magazines have the

high ground because they own the content and brands in each sector, but

the future is full of challenges and opportunities.’



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