Channel 4 research (MW last week) suggested women’s magazines were losing their grip. Here one of the sector’s doyens defends their position

Channel 4 presented a strong case for the movement of traditional women’s magazine advertising onto television (MW February 10). This is not the least bit surprising since the research used was commissioned by a broadcaster.

Channel 4 has an enterprising business team, with the goal of persuading fashion and cosmetics houses that the women’s magazine market is not as strong as it used to be. The research was conducted with only 300 women. There are 23.5 million women in Britain – hardly a major test of public opinion.

More women are buying and reading magazines than ever before. If you combine the circulation and readership figures of the top seven women’s magazines – Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Harpers & Queen, Tatler, Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Journal – the trend is decidedly towards growth.

In 1990, the combined ABC sales of these seven magazines amounted to 1.3 million. With recently announced July/December l994 figures the total has risen to 1.7 million – 31 per cent growth.

Equally impressive gains have been made in readership. In 1990, the combined, unduplicated ABCl women readership figure for these seven titles was 2.06 million.

At the end of last year the figure had risen to 2.633 million – an increase of 28 per cent. Readership figures for 18 to 44-year-old women have also risen by 33 per cent over the past four years. And this has been achieved in a population sector which has grown by less than five per cent in the same period.

The C4 advertising team, even attempted to undermine the belief that women are loyal

to their favourite magazines and they take the time to read them.

Across 1993 and 1994 Vogue carried out three consecutive independent surveys that covered reading trends and time patterns.

The surveys found that the regular Vogue reader spends 120 minutes with the magazine each month, and goes back to look at it six times.

The fashion glossies are a big success story in UK publishing. It is flattering that a TV station like C4 has to single out this potent group as a means to find new revenue. v

Stephen Quinn is publishing director at Vogue magazine.

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