An imperative to internationalise?

Why UK publishers need to look again at the business opportunities beyond national frontiers

Charles Simpson

A degree of internationalisation already exists across Europe, but the UK is poorly represented amongst active players. For four key reasons, much greater and more vigorous involvement now looks advisable: that consumers themselves are looking less national; the scope for product enhancement; economies of scale; and the growth in shared consumer interests and in niches across frontiers. Current international penetrations show what is possible, and five key attributes of international success are identified. The main barrier: defensive and reactive management attitudes.

In 1991 the total turnover of consumer magazines in the UK was approximately 1.0bn. Despite the economic downturn in the UK in recent years, consumer magazines have fared reasonably well. The main reason for this is the heavy (approximately 90 per cent) reliance of consumer magazines on display advertising revenue rather than income from classified advertising. Display advertising has been less susceptible to the effects of the recession. However, there has been pressure on display revenues as media buyers have used the downturn to squeeze space rates. As a consequence publishers have looked towards improving circulations as a means of sustaining overall income levels. This has put pressure on cover prices and competition is fierce. One way of breaking out of this potentially damaging situation is to look further afield.