Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines

March 13, 2008

Clattering through the categories 1 – personal finance

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 1:24 pm

shares magazine cover

With the fun and games at Charterhouse Communications and the sale of Money Observer to Moneywise, I thought it might be worth a look at the whole personal finance category and try to pick a favourite for the ‘out’ tray.

A faltering economy, a moribund stock market, a credit squeeze – none of it helps a magazine that is appealing to a get-rich-quick mentality among inexperienced share punters. That means that Investors Chronicle is probably the strongest placed – over 25,000 subs and nearly 8,000 newsstand ain’t bad, even if it is down 4% year-on-year and well down on its peak of a few years ago.

Next up is Moneyweek – bugger all newsstand, but 29,000 subs. However, given the amount of web and mail activity they’ve done over the past few years they must be churning through these subscribers which can’t be cheap. Still, with 13% growth y-o-y you wouldn’t bet against them.

The Moneywise/Money Observer marriage is interesting. Moneywise – once fuelled by the Readers Digest powerhouse – now only sells 19,000 copies and gives 6,000 away; Money Observer – pushing through the Guardian, Observer and their sites – has 18,000 subs and 3,000 newsstand. What are they going to do? Merge them, and you run the risk of the New Statesman/New Society debacle of last century (25,000+25,000 = er 25,000). Run them separately and how do you maintain brand identity (and share a diminishing ad market)?

But Private Frazer’s tip for termination is Shares magazine. The dog left in the basket when the other MSM titles were sold last year, it sells fewer than 10,000 copies. Without the backing of a bigger company to sustain it, last in line when the advertising gets shared out, trying to sustain a weekly print schedule – it ain’t looking blue chip.

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