Consumer ABCs: Industry analysis

11 Aug 2017 
Consumer ABCs: Industry analysis

The latest ABC results for the January - June 2017 period charts all the trends for the consumer magazine market. Here, industry experts digest the findings.

Graham Martin, head of publishing, Total Media

The latest magazine ABC figures suggest that both consumers and magazine brands are under-going a behavioural shift in how they purchase and sell magazines.

The growth in circulation for digital editions has grown substantially up 29.2% from 544,000 to 703,000 year on year. However, for magazines to continue to prosper, the speed of the move to digital may need to hasten. Furthermore, it's important that we focus on the scale of brand audiences - not just that of their printed editions - when we are accessing the health of a title, and the state of the market.

There is also heartening news for magazines in the growth of kids titles, with all the debut magazines being from that sector. There are also interesting signs about how magazine reading behaviour is changing. The growth sectors are those that focus on interests and hobbies: gardening and parenting have seen over 5% growth. This is particularly interesting when considering the continued rise of partnerships activity in this sector, and creates an opportunity for brands to really integrate with perhaps smaller, but perfectly formed, audiences in a more targeted way - in print and digital.

Meanwhile, the continued political maelstrom has seen an ongoing growth in current affairs, news, political and satirical magazines, with Private Eye seeing a growth of 6.5% and the Economist a rise of 5.4%.

That these particular magazines are thriving reveals an interesting truth about the UK public's reaction to the times; the rise of Private Eye in particular, suggests an urge to engage with the news humorously, ridiculing the state of affairs, whilst the corresponding increase for the Economist shows an desire to understand and unpick the news.

This indicates that consumers flock to trusted brands when they want reporting or analysis of important global events.

For brands this means magazines are still one of the best places to target highly engaged readers, whether it be someone reading the Economist in an attempt to make sense of the world, or a keen gardener that wants to learn more about mulching.

Mark Jackson, managing director, MC&C

The latest ABC figures reveal that consumer magazines are by no means dying, they’re evolving. This is evidenced in the fact that digital edition circulation has seen an almost 30% increase in the past year. So although we are currently in a position where more sectors are declining than increasing, this can likely be attributed to a transition period where the medium learns to adapt and evolve in order to stay relevant to consumers, and as a result, advertisers.

The proliferation of media channels has meant that brands that more traditionally catered towards a certain demographic, for example women’s titles, have had to compete for attention in a crowded media landscape. From a performance perspective however, we can in no way dismiss magazines.

The medium continues to be a really effective way to reach niche consumer groups, as they have a loyal and engaged audience following. We can see this in the fact that Home Interest: Gardening has grown 4.6% and Leisure Interest has grown 6%. They therefore remain an effective method of talking to a desired audience as part of a considered media mix.

It is vital that brands consider a cross-channel approach to their media spend, so as to not miss the opportunity to reach key and engaged audiences in a format familiar to them.


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