Last week’s consumer ABC release was awash with minus signs; figures that were hard to be upbeat about even for publishers well versed in top-spinning their ABCs.
As with last time, maintaining market position or growing market share, as opposed to actually growing circulation, were the cling-to positions for many titles.
But, there were a few plus signs floating around…
Hats off to the children’s market where a number of titles (including Peppa Pig Bag o’ Fun and Disney’s Princess) posted strong increases, with both titles 100% actively purchased. This is a sector dominated by print, where anxious parents steer their little darlings away from the screen.
Further up the age spectrum, gardening titles (Garden Answers and the 100% actively purchased BBC Gardeners’ World) also saw increases, testament to strong brands and passionate readers.
The need to make sense of an increasingly perplexing world saw current affairs titles The Economist do well with the grownups and The Week Junior with wannabe grownups.
And dotted around other sectors were titles, where circulation numbers held steady, give or take the odd increase in frees and ‘all you can read’ digital copies. In today’s market, holding steady is not a bad place to be.
What links successful titles is … quality. They tend to be strong confident brands with distinctive identities and a clear and trusted editorial proposition. Readers know what they’re going to get and like it.
Conversely, the circulations of titles with a weak identity in sectors overflowing with lookalike titles are heading inexorably southwards. Launching me-too offerings might have made commercial sense ten years ago, but some of those titles are now looking rootless and vulnerable.
But, ever the optimist, I think that there is a positive message to take away from these ABCs: focus on quality and you won’t go far wrong.