In the growing age of online newspapers and magazines, blogs and social media, print journalism has been in decline for years. Fashion magazines, on the other hand, have kept up with brand loyalty and the demands of readers. After the recession in 2008, magazines were a luxury item that many could not splurge on, so how did these high end companies continue to maintain their print sales and which company generates the most revenue?
Celebrities who make an appearance on the cover has been accredited to the rise and fall in print sales of specific fashion magazines. For example, according to Women’s Wear Daily, Lady Gaga appeared on the March cover of American Vogue in 2011, which put Vogue in the spot for the only fashion magazine category to show an increase in print sales in the first half of the year alone. 100,000 more copies were sold in comparison to Vogue’s previous March 2010 copy, which featured comedian and actress, Tina Fey.
In 2011, Vogue’s sales went up by 12.7 percent with 360,400 copies sold within the first six months of the year. On the other end of the spectrum, Marie Claire had the largest decline of 21.5 percent and editor in chief, Joanna Coles, accredited this to who was placed on the cover. Coles told Women’s Wear Daily that she didn’t think “women like men on the cover of a women’s fashion magazine.”
2010 proved to be a good year for the notorious fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, which was up by 10 percent during the first six months of the year. Unfortunately, 2011 brought sales down by 14.3 percent. Editor in chief, Glenda Bailey, told Women’s Wear Daily that it would be much easier to put celebrities that are known to sell more copies on the cover of their magazine every single month, but that just simply isn’t possible. Experimenting with new faces on each cover seems to be the trend with the majority of fashion magazines, but with regards to sales, the cover could be a hit or a miss for the company.
Despite who is on the cover of each fashion magazine every month, fashion magazine companies are having to target specific groups in order to retain readership and sales. According to Statista, only three percent of Americans said that they read magazines regularly while nine percent said they occasionally read them. The magazine industry’s total revenue, not limited to fashion, went from $10.7 billion in 2005 to $8.3 billion in 2011. The industry has been increasing prices and decreasing expenses in order to compensate for the loss of subscriptions and readership over the years. Even though total revenue has fallen, advertising sales are expected to change only by a small amount over the next few years from $15.19 billion in 2012.
In 2010, Harper’s Bazaar generated a total of $206.7 million in selling advertising space alone while In Style Magazine generated a total of $367.57 million. Here is a graph depicting the total amount of advertising revenue a handful of fashion magazines generated from the years 2009-2013.
From the graph above, it’s clear that In Style Magazine is the leading fashion magazine when it comes to advertising revenue, while Allure Magazine falls short year after year. Vogue trails behind In Style each year, but still maintains the magazine’s advertising revenue at a steady pace.
While online versions of fashion magazines are growing in popularity, the print versions are maintaining sales slowly, but surely. Advertising sales may be the reason some fashion magazines are staying afloat if annual sales continue to plummet. Even though the future of newsstand sales may be unknown, as long as the product is available to the public, people will continue to purchase fashion magazines out of impulse and/or brand loyalty.