SYDNEY: Print magazines are experiencing readership growth in Australia, driven largely by interest in the Food & Entertainment category, and, in particular, by the effort of leading supermarkets.

Figures from Roy Morgan Research for the year to September 2015, contained in its Australian Magazine Print Readership and Cross-Platform Audience study, showed that the combined reach of titles in Food & Entertainment was up 17.1%.

Topping the overall table were two free supermarket titles: Coles Magazine was up 31% to 3,672,000, while Woolworths' Fresh increased 25.4% to 3,272,000.

Two other paid-for Food & Entertainment titles in the top twenty also posted double-digit gains: Magazine, jumped 36.7% to 607,000, and Recipes+ saw a more sedate advance of 13.2% to 421,000.

And smaller magazines in the category were also befitting from consumer interest, including Selector (+44.9% to 100,000), Gourmet Traveller Wine (+20.7% to 105,000) and Delicious (+5.5% to 364,000).

"The continued success of both Coles Magazine and Fresh highlights the increasing influence of retailers in the media space," Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, told B&T Magazine.

But few other categories could boast similar growth to that of Food & Entertainment – only Sports (+15.4%) managed double digits, while General Interest (+6.0%), Health & Family (+5.0%), Business, Financial & Airline (+4.7%) and Music & Movies (+3.1%) all came in above the industry average of +2.7%.

Levine highlighted how magazines are but one aspect of a retail brand's potential cross-media audience, with websites, loyalty cards and store visits all factors that can be included to come up with an unduplicated 'total cross-platform' reach.

"When we look at Woolworths and all their assets," she explained, "the supermarket's total cross-platform reach among shoppers, magazine readers and loyalty subscribers is 14.6m Australians aged over 14, just ahead of Coles with 14.4m – despite the latter's 400,000 more magazine readers."

Data sourced from B&T Magazine; additional content by Warc staff