Old Aunty Takes Big Leaps

The new circulation figures for the Swiss press - an overview of circulation winners and losers

The new circulation figures for the Swiss press - an overview of circulation winners and losersBy Markus Knöpfli Large circulation jumps are also rare this year. But they do happen, especially with customer magazines and special interest titles. Overall, however, the German-speaking Swiss market is less subject to strong (percentage) fluctuations than the titles in western and southern Switzerland.
Because the method of calculating readership figures will change in the autumn from the so-called K1 to the new LpA value (readers per issue), this year's and next year's circulation figures will have a special significance: in the churning print sea, they will remain the only point of reference for publishers and media planners for two years. Those who do not suffer a loss in circulation this year and in 2001 therefore not only have a trump card, but at least still have the nell in their hands.
Old Aunty From Falcon Street Makes Big Jumps
Among the Swiss-German newspapers, the NZZ was again among the biggest winners, as was the Bund. The NZZ increased by 2593 copies or 1.6 percent, which Tobias Trevisan, Head of Newspapers, attributes to the "permanent work on content quality". Other reasons include the new sports association, intensified marketing, increasing interest in business topics and the growing proportion of the population with a good education. "Our target group is growing," adds the publishing director.
The Bund gained 2121 copies, which corresponds to an increase of 3.2 percent. Three quarters of this increase is attributable to the expansion in Biel, says publishing director J. Pepe Wiss, while in the city of Berne the Bund only increased slightly.
Also noteworthy is the Berner Zeitung, which never makes big leaps, but according to BZ managing director Franziska von Weissenfluh has been regularly increasing between 600 and 1200 copies for at least twelve years. This time, too, it's 1074 again.
On the losing side, the St. Galler Tagblatt (SGT) and, for the first time, Cash stand out. The SGT justified last year's loss of 3.2 percent with "adjustments after the merger" and announced better figures for this year.
But the paper lost another 4.4 percent. The reason given by SGT publishing director Daniel Ehrat: "At last year's certification, the title had not yet been adjusted." The figures the publisher received from merger partner Ostschweiz before the merger had not lived up to expectations. For example, the readership structure had turned out to be relatively old, and there had also been many duplicates.
Cash loses readers and subscribers for the first time
The business paper Cash reached its temporary peak last year and has now fallen back by 2.6 percent or 1880 copies even below the level of the Wemf certification basis 1997 - allegedly because of last year's price increase. Nevertheless, Ringier is optimistic. "We are convinced that Cash, with its new concept and layout, will once again exceed 72,000, or even reach 8,000 copies," says company spokesman Fridolin Luchsinger.
The changes at most other newspapers are in the range of plus or minus one percent. Some are nevertheless worth mentioning. Like Cash, Blick lost more circulation in 1999 (minus 2971 copies) than it gained in 1998 - despite a revised concept. "Blick is in a stagnation phase, the losses are spread over the whole year and cannot be attributed to the new commuter newspapers," says Luchsinger.
TA-Media also denies the influence of the Zürich Express, which was launched in 1999, although the Tages-Anzeiger lost a good three times more copies than in the previous year, with a drop of 1,880. The Sonntagszeitung, on the other hand, continues to make steady progress, gaining 0.72 percent, while the SonntagsBlick, albeit at a higher level, only recorded an increase of 0.05 percent.
Weltwoche has also been growing since 1998, in small steps but steadily. At the current certification it is again 700 copies more. The reintroduction of the Wirtschaftsbund has obviously paid off.
The Aargauer Zeitung, on the other hand, performed disappointingly: The increase of 0.25 percent or 299 copies is not only weaker than a year ago, it is also significantly below what could have been expected from the "Added Value AZ" project and the expansion from five to nine regional splits.
The Neue Luzerner Zeitung has also slowed down its growth: while it increased by around 1500 copies in each of the two previous years, it has now probably reached its ceiling with an increase of only 169 copies. The changes in the newspapers in French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino were much more pronounced than in German-speaking Switzerland - and with only three exceptions were positive. The biggest gain was recorded by the Nouvelliste with 6.2 percent, followed by Mattino della Domenica (plus 5.1 percent) and La Presse Riviera-Chablais (plus 4.7 percent). The Ringier paper Il Caffè, launched in 1998, increased its circulation by 898 copies.
Le Matin Dimanche and l'Impartial have again lost circulation, albeit at very different levels. The loss of 906 copies represents a minus of 4.03 percent for l'Impartial, while Le Matin Dimanche lost "only" 1.4 percent with 3111 copies. L'Express also suffered a loss of the same percentage.
Swiss Illustrated over 250000 copies
The changes in German-language magazines in Switzerland can be summarized as follows: Health titles continue to make massive gains (Gesundheit-Sprechstunde: plus 11552, Puls-Tip: plus 7854 copies), while women's titles are losing ground (Modeblatt: minus 7322, Annabelle: minus 6196, Glückspost: minus 5295, d'Chuchi: minus 695 copies), and two previous outliers seem to have reached their limit (Facts: plus 136, K-Tip: plus 857 copies).
The different developments at Schweizer Illustrierte (SI) and Schweizer Familie (SF) are also striking. While SI, with an increase of 3003 copies, "easily" made the leap over the mark of a quarter of a million copies according to Luchsinger, SF fell back again by ten percent (minus 17301 copies).
This is all the more serious because in 1999, after a clearly flattening loss curve, TA-Media had expected to have finally halted the decline of the paper, which had been going on for years. René Gehrig, who is responsible for the marketing of all TA-Media magazines, explains the recent drop in sales by the large proportion of quarterly subscriptions. Every time an invoice is issued, three per cent of subscribers are lost, which amounts to twelve per cent annually, he says. Still, he is confident about the coming year. "The new concept is going down well, as evidenced by the conversion rate from acquaintance to fixed subscriptions," Gehrig says. And then he adds, "I'm looking forward to the next credentials."
The loss at Glückspost is attributable to the first half of 1999, says Ringier spokesman Luchsinger, but since Helmut Maria Glogger took over the reins as editor-in-chief, an increase has been noted again at the newsstand.
There is no end in sight to the multi-year negative trend at Das Beste (Reader's Digest) - incidentally also in French-speaking Switzerland. The paper has again lost a good 12,000 copies and is now well below the 200,000 mark. The seemingly terse reason given by publishing director Beat Stalder: One concentrates on the "core target group 40 plus". The TV magazine TR 7 from the Basler Medien Group, on the other hand, made a leap of 3.5 percent and thus increased its circulation by almost 9,000 copies in two years.
Record 1: Welscher K-Tip with plus 34.8 percent
In French-speaking Switzerland, the trend is partly different: K-Tip's counterpart Bon à savoir, for example, has increased its circulation by an impressive 24528 copies (plus 34.8 percent) and is the leader among all Swiss print titles sold in terms of growth. Générations is also doing well, up 12.47 percent, as is Vinum, which is also growing by 7.2 percent in German-speaking Switzerland.
Ringier's L'Illustré (up 4,266 copies) made further gains, reaching almost 100,000 copies. The lifestyle magazine Edelweiss, on the other hand, gained only 25 copies in its second year.
With the exception of the new, not yet certified commuter newspapers in Zurich, not much has changed in the free titles. After an uncertified year, the Zürich Express now has 19,1937 copies, while Lausanne-Cités (up 4.2 percent), the Winterthurer Woche (up 2.9 percent) and the Anzeiger St. Gallen/Appenzell (up 2 percent) recorded larger increases. The Schaffhauser Bock, on the other hand, lost considerable ground (minus 2.3 percent).
Record 2: PC-Tip increases 95 percent
Among the special interest titles, there are two that stand out: The Homeowner is up 22287 copies (up 9.26 percent) in the past year alone, following a 10.27 percent increase in 1999.
The former Tagi supplement PC-Tip also set a percentage record: It jumped by 95.78 percent to 44652 copies. Manuela Van Audenhove, responsible for sales and marketing at the publisher IDG Communications, explains the huge jump like this: The PC-Tip brings the news close to the audience, simple and understandable, and the subscription price of 29 francs is relatively low (12 issues per year).
Handelszeitung stagnated at 36596 copies, while Finanz und Wirtschaft increased by 4.4 percent. Among the professional magazines, the agricultural title Die Grüne stands out, having lost 15 percent since 1997, while the other agricultural titles have stagnated. Among the customer magazines, CoopZeitung (1879660) and Brückenbauer (1808000) (Migros) are neck-and-neck in terms of total circulation. Brückenbauer really took off in 1999, selling half a million copies more in German-speaking Switzerland alone. In French-speaking Switzerland, Construire has already outstripped Coopération by 20,000 copies.
Also to be mentioned is Strom, which had to reduce its circulation by 252000 copies (18.7 percent). The children's magazine Junior, which is distributed primarily in cantonal banks, also lost 10.69 percent because the Zürcher Kantonalbank decided in favor of its own, advertising-free magazine, also from Hug Verlag.
How to read the new circulation figures

Not all of the available figures are certified; some are based on self-declaration. The reason for this is that because reduced postage rates are now only granted for certified titles, Wemf's clientele has increased fourfold this year to around 2500 titles. This year's certification will therefore take until around March 2001. According to Christel Plöger, project manager at Wemf, the titles relevant to advertising will be certified first, but the introduction of additional staff has also caused a delay here. "The self-declared circulation is therefore valid until proven otherwise," explains Plöger.

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