America’s reeling magazine publishing industry – worst hit of all US media sectors by the advertising recession – must look for growth to the emerging economies of south-east Asia according to World Magazine Trends 2202/03, a report published this week by FIPPA (International Federation of the Periodical Press) in association with Zenith Optimedia.

While circulation revenues (which in most markets, bar the US, Germany and Italy, generate the bulk of revenues) have been stable, the study predicts that the global magazine industry will not enjoy a return to sustained growth until a general recovery in corporate profits – unlikely until late 2003.

However, opportunities are up for grabs here and now in China – which boasts three of the top ten global general interest magazines by circulation – and South Korea.

Suggests the study: “Exceptions to this generally stagnant [global] picture are the developing countries of Asia ... While 2002 will be a difficult time for magazine publishers, the long-term prospects are good. Once the ad downturn has run its course we expect renewed growth in ad spend of 0.4% in 2003 and a more confident 3.4% in 2004.”

In the US, estimates the report, magazine companies last year bore the brunt of average advertising falls of 10% at consumer titles, and 22% in business publications. Consumer magazines saw adspend fall from $17.7 billion (€182.77bn; £115.30bn) to $15.9bn in 2001 – the biggest slide since the Great Depression of the early 1930s; while ad revenues in business titles slumped from $10.8bn to $8.4bn.

Some European markets – notably Germany, Italy and France where magazines take a larger slice of the advertising cake than almost any other country – underwent less dramatic declines last year. And in the UK consumer magazine advertising bucked the general trend and grew by 2.1% while spending in other media declined.

Russia, although small in comparison with other European markets, saw 2001 magazine ad revenues surge by an enviable 60% from $100m to $160m.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff