Magazine circulation newsletter Capell's Circulation Reports this week releases its 16th annual list of the 10 most impressive performers among consumer magazines, with In Style, Time Inc.'s offshoot of People, heading the class.
The list is designed to show greatest improvement in circulation performance by comparing 1998 circulation statistics with information from 1997 and 1996. Criteria for improvement include rate base management, pricing, source mix and newsstand sales, among other factors. To a great extent, success in those areas is a function of a magazine's direct mail, telemarketing and insert card efforts, said Daniel Capell, editor of CCR.
“What I'm looking at when I judge these magazines is a measurement of their circulation management,” Capell said. “That's just direct marketing. Secondarily, I'll look at ad sales, branding, those kind of issues, but it's mainly direct marketing.”
Celebrity lifestyle magazine In Style climbed from last year's third place finish, buttressed in 1998 by better newsstand sales, higher cover price and an improved “percent sale” — the measure of the portion of newsstand copies that are bought — of 62.
Another Time Inc. entry, Entertainment Weekly, appeared on the list for the first time with a second place performance. The magazine's newsstand sales have grown in the double digits for 10 consecutive halves, CCR says. Unit sales and percent sales increased even as the publication raised its cover price.
Two other magazines — Rodale Press's Men's Health and Economist Newspaper Limited's The Economist — repeated as two of the most frequent magazines to appear on the list over the years, finishing at fourth and fifth place, respectively. CCR cited improved newsstand sales for both publications, though other factors came into play for each magazine.
Rounding out the remainder of the top 10 titles were The Source at third, Robb Report at sixth, followed by Architectural Digest, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Shape.
As a byproduct of their circulation activity, all of the magazines on the list boost their own databases. To a great extent, the creativity that goes into the magazines' DM efforts is what separates the top 10 from the rest of the very large pack, Capell said.
“It's creativity, in terms of offers, packages and copy they use in their approach. All of those things are what make their response rates better than most,” he said.
The report's statistical overview of the top 10 magazines includes comparisons on average paid circulation, average newsstand sales per issue, latest ABC audit report results, ABC publisher statement analyses and advertising page data. CCR is published 20 times a year by Capell & Associates, Ridgewood, NJ.