The Sunday Telegraph’s new review section has proved that a newspaper’s editorial innovation and advertising support are not as effective circulation builders as price cutting.
The newspaper’s September circulation was 672,172, a fall of 1.7 per cent on August, traditionally the weakest month for sales. The title was also down 1.2 per cent on September 1994, in which it sold 680,591.
The fall comes in spite of the new Sunday section, which has been widely promoted in a 1m poster campaign across London. It also follows 18 months of sustained growth for the title. The Sunday paper sold about 600,000 copies 18 months ago, but this has increased to around 700,000 for much of the past six months.
The circulation growth was provided by a price promotion that offered the Saturday Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph for 1. That promotion ended the week before the new section launched on September 17.
However, some Telegraph sources believe the new section is weak. “The first few issues were commissioned by a skeleton staff during the summer and some of the content needs to be sharpened up,” says one.
Marketing director David Pugh disagrees: “Readers like the new format and the figures were starting to come up again at the end of the month. We decided to spend our money on editorial instead of price.”