When Grazia launched in February, sharply pencilled eyebrows were raised over whether there was room for another women's glossy in an already saturated magazine market.
Six months later, the magazine's publisher, Emap, has been vindicated, with Grazia easily achieving its declared weekly circulation target of 150,000. Billed as Britain's first weekly glossy, Grazia's first officially audited circulation figure shows it is selling 155,157 copies a week, most at the news stand.
Its formula of delivering news, fashion and celebrity in a glossy format to a weekly schedule has proved a hit with Emap's target reader, the difficult to reach upmarket, 30-something woman. The weekly style title has long been a feature of the French and Italian magazine markets - Grazia was launched in Italy - but in Britain it was a new idea.
Emap are so confident of Grazia's success that last month the cover price was raised from £1.50 to £1.70. And the magazine has continued to sell well over target, some issues selling more than 180,000 copies.
The magazine is also Emap's most successful launch in advertising, having passed £2m, although some advertisers have baulked at the rates for a weekly magazine. But success has come at a price. The marketing budget for the first 14 months is £12.5m, Emap's biggest investment in a magazine to date. Claudine Collins, the press director at MediaCom, which buys advertising space, said: "Grazia has done a great job. It has brought something new to the market, although their rate policy leaves something to be desired."
Detractors have accused Grazia of being more downmarket than was envisaged, saying it has a higher celebrity content than its Italian counterpart. Fiona McIntosh, the editor-in-chief and a former editor of Elle, says 75 per cent of Grazia's advertising comes from fashion and beauty houses including Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss, Lancome and Estee Lauder. "What appeals to us doesn't necessarily appeal to Italian women," she said. "We're more plugged into America, so we're more interested in stars. We've tried to feature only A-list stars; we haven't taken anyone from Big Brother or reality TV."
While Grazia's unique selling point is its immediacy, Easy Living, launched two weeks later in March, used an aggressive pricing strategy to persuade its target readers, affluent women in their early forties, to pick it up. At £1.90 Easy Living is one of the least expensive monthly women's magazines. It even offered a £12-for-12-editions deal.
As a result, the Condé Nast title, which cost £17m to launch, has recorded a first official circulation figure of 171,038 copies a month, including 15,000 subscription sales. The editor, Susie Forbes, said: "It confirms there is a group of women out there waiting for this magazine. We've grown the market rather than cannibalised sales from our competitors."
Marcelle D'Argy Smith, the former Cosmopolitan editor, said price was a crucial issue in the success of both magazines. She said: "These titles are the magazine equivalent of [high street stores] Hennes and Zara. They're so dirt cheap, if you throw them away you just don't care. I haven't gasped at the novelty of either."
Tale of the titles
GRAZIA Published by Emap
Launched in February 2005
Sells 155,157 copies
Cover price £1.70
Billed as the UK's first weekly glossy, Grazia offers news, features, fashion and celebrity aimed at the ABC1 woman with a median age of 34.
Published by Condé Nast
Launched in March 2005
Sells 171,038 copies a month
Cover price £1.90
The latest title from the publisher of Vogue is aimed at affluent 40-something women, with features on cookery, interiors and relationships.