As we all know the print industry has been under pressure for some time now and when we look at the static ABC membership numbers, it is clear that the print environment remains a difficult one to trade in.
The latest ABC certificates have been released. These audited circulations cover the fourth quarter of 2012, and give a picture of what’s happening in the print environment.
Apart from circulation issues, which directly affect the print industry’s advertising revenue, they also have a lot of indirect factors exaggerating their current dilemmas.
With GDP growth of around 2.4% and the retail sector in particular under huge amounts of pressure this does not bode well for the print industry, as they will be pushed hard by these retailers to maximise value, which will affect the bottom line.
Consumers themselves are also under huge amounts of pressure that is slowly just gaining more momentum as the petrol and electricity bill increase that directly affect the cost of the grocery trolley and before the average consumer blinks, there’s another couple of hundred a month gone from their disposable income.
This off a base of already tough times will mean that more and more consumers will be making tougher decisions when it comes to the purchasing of their daily, weekly and monthly print titles. Ultimately this will reduce the number of titles and frequency that print titles are consumed resulting in additional pressure on the print industry in terms of circulation.
Therefore the compound effect of all the above, makes for another tough year to be in the printing game.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s been happening.
The total newspaper category declined by 144 000 copies in Q4 compared to the previous quarter. Daily newspaper circulation has declined annually by 5.7% since 2008 and equates to 411 000 copies. Q4 declined by 2.2% when compared to Q3.
When we look closer at the daily newspapers and we look at readership against language we see that the English papers are the biggest losers with 349 000 less copies sold over the last four years vs the 70 000 less copies sold against the Afrikaans market over the same period. That said, the vernacular titles have increased by 2% or 9000 copies annually over the four-year period, although it is small growth it is growth.
Within the daily paper category, Isolezwe has shown the largest growth with 3.3% while the Herald increased by 2.3%. When looking at the biggest losers for daily press we see the Argus down 26.8%, The Star down 20,6%, the Cape Times down 19.2% and Pretoria News down 19.1%.
When we look at the weekend papers we see the same story with annual circulation declining by 376 000 copies over a four year period. And the decline continues as Q4 declined by 3.2% when compared to Q3. As with the daily papers English titles have declined by 442 000 copies sold over the past four years. Afrikaans titles are down annually by 99 000 copies over the four year period.
As with the daily papers, the vernacular titles have grown annually, but unlike the daily papers the weekend vernacular papers have grown by a substantial margin of 33% thus growing vernacular title copies by 135 000 copies over the period. Isolezwe moved up 24.8%.
The biggest losers for weekend press were Pretoria News Saturday losing 21.7% and The Saturday Star losing 20.5% of their circulation.
The total magazine category reflects an overall decline of 0.9% or 187 000 copies over the previous quarter with consumer magazines decreasing by 2.2% or a 146 000 copies over the previous quarter.
As stated before, the print industry that is under enormous pressure from a circulation point of view but that said as in any environment there will always be those who find a way to succeed. Although it is tough times for the print industry, it is ultimately good for the consumer as titles need to push the quality of the content and the overall appeal of their title to maintain and capture new readers.
Titles that must be doing something right include House & Leisure up 16%, Playboy up 7%, Baba & Kleuter up 13%, Living & Loving up 38%, Sowetan Magazine up 14%, Fairlady up 17%, Good Housekeeping up 18% and Kuier up 61%
All these titles are operating in the same competitive environment yet are finding ways to not only maintain their readership but also grow it, which just goes to show a good product will always sell.
Apart from the free newspaper category and a handful of titles, the print industry and especially the press side of it, continue to see new low levels on a quarterly basis. The press industry will find it harder as they need to appeal to a broader audience continuously which is difficult while the magazine industry continues to fragment into more niche titles that allows them to focus their content specifically to their readers allowing them the ability to maintain and even grow their readership.
One final thought, the total number of titles with ABC certificates is 863 and delivers a total circulation of 32 925 392 copies there is no reason to put you at risk and use titles that don’t have an ABC.
We always recommend that wherever possible that our clients use print titles that have ABC certificates. The certificates safeguard us from print owners who say they have a print order of X and circulate Y number of copies only for us to find out later that the figures are A and B!
Kevin van Deventer and Fiona Brauns are both business unit heads at The MediaShop in Johannesburg.
This post was first published by The MediaShop.