Is upscaling the best way ahead for men's monthlies?

With news-stand sales of most men's monthlies in long-term decline, some publishers are repositioning titles to attract upscale advertisers. Is this what agencies and advertisers want?

NO - Vanessa Doyle, group head, Initiative

Given that the top-end and luxury magazine markets are buoyant, it is understandable that some men's magazines are hunting for the same premium pounds on offer.

But this is a short-term strategy. In order to sustain a long-term successful business, and the advertising that goes with it, the suffering men's titles need to move with male trends. Rather than chasing trends, men's magazines should instead be appearing to lead and create trends.

Advertisers also have to be flexible in the products they offer and relevant media brands have to start thinking on their feet in a similar fashion.

Men's magazines tend to follow the female magazine approach, to have regular editorial in order to offer the male reader familiarity, but men are not necessarily interested in such a rigid editorial format.

NO - Mandy Cross, press manager, Vizeum

In the past couple of years, the "successful" titles in this struggling sector have been special interest titles such as Men's Health, FourFourTwo and upmarket fashion bible, GQ.

Therefore, magazines such as FHM, Loaded and Maxim are seeking to follow this trend by repositioning themselves to attract a more discerning audience and even strengthening specific editorial sections.

However, this is not a new strategy, as over the past few years, they have continually "relaunched".

More defined audiences are definitely the key, as male readers increasingly consume magazines from a practical, specialist angle, rather than lifestyle perspective.

However, it does feel that this repositioning strategy from the younger men's lifestyle monthlies is too little too late.

YES - Gabrielle Rossetti, press manager, Arena BLM

The men's magazine market needs to change. The cultural phenomena of the 1990s that generated record ABCs is over and 30-somethings are nowadays more interested in hobby and specialist print or online reads.

The key to repositioning in the current market isn't about chasing audiences that are already catered for, it is about offering must-have content that can be leveraged across a number of platforms.

Arena is proof that chasing an ABC1 audience does not automatically yield high rewards.

The launch of ShortList and the success of Sport, coupled with recent performances by titles such as GQ and Men's Health, demonstrate that men want content that is interesting, involving or thought-provoking.

Agencies are interested in audiences and products that deliver, rather than a marketing spin about how they intend to combat terminal decline.

NO - Rob Lynam, account director, Mediaedge:cia

It is 10 years since the heyday of the men's monthly magazine, when FHM, Loaded and Maxim combined used to sell in excess of 1.5 million copies each month.

This month's ABCs are likely to show that figure will be less than half a million.

While upscaling, editorial changes, or repositioning may offer a magazine an opportunity to refocus, stem the circulation decline or even turn around its fortunes, it is not the answer in itself.

A sustained investment in the quality of the product is also required. Readers and advertisers buy magazines because they know what they stand for - because they fit with readers' lives and the brand fits with the advertiser.

Any changes to the magazine need to be relevant with their brand heritage, and constant changes to editorial alienate both readers and advertisers.

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