Price promotions aren't new to the fiercely competitive celebrity-glossy category, but the participation of In Touch in particular is surprising because the magazine has already built a substantial following. Offering it for a quarter seems to suggest that Bauer sees plenty of growth remaining ahead.
"We've had great success in attracting new readers with our 25-cent newsstand promotions," said Bob Davidowitz, publisher, In Touch and Life & Style. "It will be a great week for new readers to sample both."
The four biggest celebrity weeklies -- People, Us Weekly, Star and In Touch -- have been more or less chugging along this year even without material of, say, Aniston-Pitt proportions. Collectively they've sold an average of 4.3 million newsstand copies, down about 1% from the equivalent period last year, according to a circulation insider.
But Bauer will more than move the needle if either of its star-gazing titles duplicates the success of an In Touch promotion from 2004. In Touch averaged newsstand sales of just 862,516 back then, but a single issue dated July 5 and priced at a quarter quickly sold 1.5 million copies. The gains stuck around afterward, as sales topped 1 million for another three weeks straight and beat the average almost every week for the rest of the year.
By the second half of last year, In Touch was averaging total sales approaching 1.2 million, according to its publisher's statement to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. By comparison, American Media's Star reported 1.4 million; Us Weekly from Wenner Media reported almost 1.7 million; and behemoth People, from Time Inc., reported nearly 3.7 million.
Deep discounts don't always produce the desired result. American Media tried to help Celebrity Living Weekly find more readers last October with a 25-cent issue, but still had to shut the book down last month.
But price-cutting can be addictive, too. Richard Desmond's OK slashed its cover price to $1.99 on Feb. 16 with the intention of returning to $3.29 within a few months. After newsstand sales grew more than 60%, executives decided to extend the promotion "until further notice," said Christian Toksvig, CEO.