Home interest is the fifth largest magazine sector in terms of retail sales value, generating more than £54m a year. The good news for retailers with limited shelf space is that of the 25 publications in the marketplace, the top 12 titles (in terms of copy sales) generate more than 80% of the total revenue for the sector. With so many titles, competition in this sector is intense and inevitably there have been casualties. Most recently, GE's Inspirations closed after its news stand circulation fell 27% year-on-year while IPC is to close Homes & Ideas from the Dec/Jan issue. However, IPC SouthBank is by far the largest publisher in this market with more than 40% market share by value and five key brands in the top 12. Indeed, Ideal Home ­ the bestselling news stand title in the sector ­ generates a national revenue of more than £6m [source: Comag]. With a news stand sales figure of 215,676, Ideal Home increased its circulation by 8% period-on-period in the last audit although ­ in common with much of the sector ­ it was down year-on-year by 2.5%. Amy Culligan, acting associate publisher, describes Ideal Home as one of the enduring success stories of the magazine market. She says: "Ideal Home sits at the heart of the sector with a broad and far reaching appeal. It has a brand heritage and readers trust Ideal Home to offer sound, down to earth decorating advice and to give them the facts about consumer advice." The title launched in 1920 but Amy says recent "mimicry from the competition" has prompted IPC to implement changes to the title to distinguish it further from the competition. More than a million pounds has been invested in marketing and editorial and, from the November issue, Ideal Home increased editorial pagination by 50% and ­ contrary to the latest trend towards downsizing ­ increased its size by 20%. Like many titles in the sector, Ideal Home is marketed with banded/bagged supplements, but Culligan is careful to point out that quality is key in this area. "We strive for new packaging ideas and promotional techniques and only to work with the best partners, for example M&S on the November issue," she says. "Retail promotions are carried out throughout the year, however the main focus is on the seasonally strong issues ­ Mar/April, Oct/Nov and Dec/Jan." Ideal Home took market leadership of the sector from NatMags' House Beautiful in January 2000, and the NatMags' title has remained in the number two spot on the news stand ever since. House Beautiful, which is aimed at busy 30 to 40-something women, reported a news stand ABC of 123,364 for the last audit ­ down a hefty 18% year on year. Despite the drop, the magazine's editor Libby Norman points out that House Beautiful will not be closing ­ in fact it has in place a series of marketing initiatives to drive circulation. "National Magazine Company is a great believer in developing strong brands and we have an exciting promotional and editorial plan of action in 2002," says Norman. The marketing for the title includes an ongoing programme of supplements and a programme of instore promotions tailored for each retail channel. Norman says that while the title has a balanced retail distribution, incorporating convenience and independent outlets, "supermarkets are definitely a key sector for us ­ and their importance is growing". Like Ideal Home, House Beautiful's approach to covermounts is a cautious one. Norman says the title uses covermounted discount cards for leading stores when appropriate, but adds: "There is a general feeling that covermounts have been overused in recent years and we're seeing a more cautious approach in every sector right now. "Covermounts cost a fortune, produce a short-term sales gain and can be a real nightmare for retailers. Supplements, provided they're appropriate, are a wonderful added value tool because you're giving readers more of what they enjoy, which is reading your magazine." The magazine also puts store in the general media as a marketing tool. "We are active in promoting our magazine via PR with members of the House Beautiful team regularly interviewed on radio and TV as experts in decorating and house matters," says Norman. House Beautiful has also built a full-scale family home at the Ideal Home Show for the past eight years. For the past three years NatMags has also published House Beautiful Complete Christmas as an extension of the main House Beautiful brand. Last year's issue sold 80,000, and Norman says it will add revenue for retailers as it is an additional purchase for House Beautiful readers as well as attracting other purchasers looking for Christmas ideas. Just behind House Beautiful on the news stand is BBC Homes & Antiques magazine from BBC Worldwide. While this title dropped 13% year-on-year in the last audit, it retains third position in the home interest sector with a news stand figure of 115,320. BBC Homes & Antiques' unique positioning is that it "mixes old and new with style". With target readership of ABC1 50-somethings, the magazine is linked to the BBC television programme Antiques Roadshow, in that every month's issue carries an eight-page Roadshow price guide. The magazine also uses covermounts as a marketing tool in common with much of the sector to drive circulation. BBC Worldwide's other home interest title is BBC Good Homes ­ and together the titles have a combined retail sales value of £6.5m. Nevertheless, BBC Good Homes fell 17.5% year-on- year on the news stand to 100,147 in the last audit. BBC Good Homes differs from its rivals in that it features the top celebrities from Changing Rooms, Home Front and DIY SOS to create specially tailored features for the magazine. The title is aimed at the mass market home sector and a typical reader is ABC1 and 38 years old. The number four home interest title on the news stand is The Real Homes Magazine from Cabal. With a news stand ABC of 118,822, it fell 5% in the last audit year- on-year. Elsewhere in the sector, two upmarket titles ­ Emap's Elle Decoration and Condé Nast's World of Interiors ­ were the only homes titles to show both a year-on-year and period-on-period increase on news stand sales in the last audit. Condé Nast's House & Garden also performed well with a 5% increase year-on-year, taking it to 59,559 on the news stand ­ although its overall circulation is more than double this with 147,041. In terms of retail market share, figures from distributor Comag show that supermarkets sell more home interest titles than any other retail outlet with a 36.3% share of the market. Tesco leads the way with 13.9% market share while Sainsbury sits in second place with 7.9%, followed by Safeway (5.8%), Waitrose (4.2%) and Asda (3.1%). Independents sell 21.5% of all home interest titles ­ slightly more than WH Smith (retail & travel combined). {{CTN }}