Two of the largest-circulation women’s service titles are lowering their frequency in the face of a challenging ad market and the threat of higher postage and paper costs.
Hearst Magazines’ Woman’s Day is reducing its frequency to 12 times a year from 15. In another cost-cutting move, it’s lowering the rate base, or circulation it guarantees to advertisers, by 14 percent, to 3.25 million from 3.8 million.
Meredith’s Family Circle also is reducing its frequency to 12 times a year from 15. But in Family Circle’s case, the savings it may recoup from printing three fewer issues will be offset by an increase in the rate base, to 4 million from 3.8 million.
The changes at both magazines will take effect with their January 2012 issues.
While rate base changes are usually done in response to financial pressure, the frequency cuts may have less impact because most other women’s service magazines already publish 12 times a year. Both titles pointed out that the frequency moves would bring them in line with their competitive set.
Both titles have been up against soft ad and newsstand markets this year. Family Circle’s ad pages declined 16.2 percent to 685 in the first six months of the year versus the year-ago period, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Its circulation was off 0.8 percent to 3.8 million in the first half of the year with single copy sales down 16.2 percent to 525,358, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
On the same basis, Woman’s Day was down 8 percent in ad pages, to 672. Its circulation declined 1.4 percent in the first half of the year to 3.9 million, but single copy sales were off 9.8 percent to 339,350. Woman’s Day became part of Hearst Magazines earlier this year when it bought Elle publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media.
Mass magazines have faced pressure in recent years to lower rate bases. Meredith has several books that fall in that category. Last summer, citing higher paper and postage costs, it lowered Ladies’ Homes Journal’s rate base 15 percent to 3.2 million and Traditional Home’s by 10 percent to 850,000.