Men's health is international magazine started in America in 1988. Riding on the success of the magazine in America the magazine moved into the British, Australian, Latin American, German and Russian magazine markets. The magazine was launched in South Africa in mid 1997 at a point in time when it was deemed that the South African market was ready for such a magazine.
The South African male magazine market was ripe for a new, fresh and focused magazine catering specifically for men, as the girlie magazines that used to dominate the male magazine market in the country were in decline, leaving behind a gap for a male magazine. The decline in the girlie magazine market in South Africa was primarily due to the markets heavy reliance on sex, nudity, violence and controversy. Several copies of Scope had been banned and certain stockists had stopped stocking magazines such as Scope. In addition, the liberalisation of censorship laws and the trade situation with the country resulted in the return of previously banned magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse which further increase the competition between the girlie magazines, making the content more and more controversial. However even these magazines were not able to maintain sustainable circulation figures due to lobbying from community groups to remove pornographic material from magazines, and by 1998 Playboy, Penthouse and Scope had all stopped production. This left the scene ripe for a male magazine that was not controversial, and full of nudity, sex and or violence and that catered to men on a basis not entirely comprised of nudity and sex.
In addition to this and resulting from the opening up of the country to international trends and markets was the emergence of a more lifestyle oriented health conscious type of man. The type of man its was hoped by the Men's Health team that would appreciate and buy into the Men's Health concept.
The decline of the girlie magazine market also resulted in advertising funding with no advertising space, providing yet another positive aspect for the Men's Health promoters to focus on.
Consequently, the mid 1990s reflected a point when the men's health and lifestyle market was untapped and also underdeveloped. However, the Men's Health publishers were not sure of the way forward and the best method to use that would ensure the sustainable capture of the market. In addition, the size, spending power and demographics of the men's, health and lifestyle magazine market were a virtual unknown, making the launch particularly sensitive and critical. In light of this and in order to test the market the first four issues of Men's Health were published on a bi-monthly basis. The launch of the publication exceeded all expectations on the part of the publishers and sold approximately 350 000 copies between July and December 1999.
It should however, be noted that Men's Health was not the only men's lifestyle magazine to attempt to take advantage of the gap left behind by the girlie magazines and the need for men's lifestyle magazines. Initially, Car, Getaway and SA Sports Illustrated joined the race, however due to the magazines being quite specialised they did not pose a direct threat to Men's Health. A magazine that did pose a direct threat to Men's health was Directions, which held a strong position and a readership of approximately 20 000 readers in the middle of 1999. Directions however, withdrew in 2000....