Every little goes a long way… Tesco Magazine overtakes The Sun to become Britain’s most-read print publication

 

As it awaits censure from the Leveson inquiry, the tabloid press suffered a new ignominy as the coveted title of Britain’s most-read print product was claimed by the supermarket brand with the catchphrase: “Every little helps”.

Tesco made the boast after its magazine, produced by contract publishers Cedar, was awarded a certified readership of 7,221,000, overhauling The Sun’s figure of 7,084,000 readers per copy. The editor of Tesco Magazine, Helen Johnston, pushed out a statement to mark a landmark moment in publishing. “What’s clear from these results is that right now, when it comes to print, branded content is king,” she declared.

The world of mass circulation print media is no longer the exclusive territory of the red tops. Supermarket magazines, propelled by free circulation models, captive audiences at the checkouts and a level of brand recognition that comes with unrivalled marketing budgets, are commanding similar sized audiences.

In the top 20 of publications in the latest National Readership Survey (NRS), the in-store publications of Asda (Asda Magazine), Marks & Spencer (Your M&S), Sainsbury’s (Sainsbury’s Magazine) and Boots (Boots Health & Beauty) all scored higher than the Daily Mirror’s average readership of 3,062,000.

Mike Ironside, chief executive of the NRS, said: “This is a very strong sector that is performing extremely well – people are reading the magazines rather than seeing them as giveaways that come with your shopping basket.”

The title of Britain’s most-read print publication is widely sought after and both the Yellow Pages and the BT Telephone Book have staked dubious claims in the recent past.

The Sun has been Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper since it overtook the Daily Mirror in 1978. Unlike occasional publication such as Tesco Magazine – which only comes out once every two months, enabling a vast army of shoppers to see it on the rack – The Sun’s NRS figure is based on the number of readers it is delivering daily from Monday to Saturday. The figure for the new Sunday edition will be included in the next survey. 

But the growth in influence of supermarket magazines should not be discounted. It has partly been driven by the popularity of cooking programmes on television. Sainsbury’s Magazine benefits from the supermarket’s relationship with Jamie Oliver, an occasional cover star, while Waitrose Kitchen benefits from a close association with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith.

By offering readers free recipes, the supermarket titles are serious competition for newsstand titles such as BBC Good Food, Delicious and Olive.

They are also rivals in feeding from the diminishing pot of print advertising spend. As a result consumer publishing houses have attempted to get a foothold into a sector that is dominated by specialist companies such as Cedar, Redwood and John Brown.

Tesco Magazine began in 2004 and is distributed in the entrances of 800 stores.

The sector has also developed through a conscious editorial investment by customer publishers that has seen the recruitment of staff from newsstand titles and national newspapers. Former Daily Mirror journalist Dawn Alford is the editorial director at Result Customer Communications, with responsibility for the Morrisons Magazine. Another Fleet Street veteran William Sitwell is editor of Waitrose Kitchen. The former editor of New Woman, Sara Cremer, is managing director at Redwood, which produces the M&S and Boots titles.

Redwood no longer styles itself as a publisher but as a “content marketing agency for branded content”. Indeed the customer publishing trade body in Britain is called the “Content Marketing Association”, reflecting the importance of customer websites and other digital formats. The Morrisons title, for example, is available through its website and as an iPad app.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Analyst

£50,000 - £60,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with previou...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor