It was circ wot won it!

James Evelegh's editorial from today's edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

It was circ wot won it!

Glamour’s announcement last Friday that it was adopting a mobile-first, social-first, beauty focused strategy, and reducing its print frequency from monthly to bi-annual came as a bit of a shock.

One wonders what arch-rival, Hearst-owned Cosmopolitan, made of it all. High fives all round? Or, umm… shrewd move, let’s copy it.

The recent history of these two rivals is well chronicled in their respective ABC certificates.

In the Jan-June 2015 ABCs, Cosmo’s ABC was 258,448, well below Glamour’s 370,012. Both titles, it must be said, were experiencing long term print declines: go back ten years and you had Cosmo at 462,943 and Glamour at 609,626.

If, in 2015, you had put money on which title would switch to digital first, then it probably would have gone on Cosmo.

But Cosmo acted, decisively. It slashed its cover price to £1 and adopted an innovative and aggressive hybrid distribution model, upping its print run and targeting free copies to core reader segments at universities, shopping centres and events.

The following ABCs saw Cosmo leap to 405,308, but Glamour continue its decline to 350,031.

Earlier this year, Condé Nast copied Hearst’s £1 cover price, but not its hybrid distribution model. Sales of Glamour rose but not in the numbers that would have pulled in the extra advertising to compensate for the hit they took in circulation revenue.

The latest ABCs had Cosmo at 403,887 (of which 70,370 were ‘monitored free distribution’ (MFD)) and Glamour at 275,536 (5,488 MFD). That probably sealed it.

Glamour lives on and is embarking on its new almost-digital-only journey from a lot stronger position than others who have taken a similar path before.

Hearst’s hybrid circulation strategy has won lots of industry plaudits over the last few years; now, it might just have won its biggest prize.