<%@ Language=VBScript %> <% CheckState() CheckSub() %> Specialist magazine values
Admap Published by NTC Publications Ltd
Farm Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1EJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1491 411000  Fax: +44 (0)1491 571188

May 1996


Specialist magazine values

Specialist magazines have seen rapid circulation growth, but reliable readership figures are available only for a handful of titles. New research by IPC fills the gap in our knowledge by providing comparable readership data for 90 specialist titles, and detailed information on how the magazines - and their advertising - are read and used. By Nicola Rodger

Nicola Rodger

Specialist magazines have been growing in recent years, not only in terms of the number of readers, but also in the increasing number of consumer advertisers who have seen the benefits of the medium. To mention but a few examples, we have seen greater use of the specialist press by mainstream advertisers such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Ford and Levi's. And now, even top nerd Bill Gates has turned his attention to specialist magazines. In a recent article in the FT, he wrote:

'Broadcast advertising reaches many people who aren't interested in the products. Magazines, on the other hand, are often aimed at more closely-targeted audiences. In fact, people often buy special interest magazines as much for the ads as for the articles.'

Obviously, for a specialist product, there is no better place to advertise than in a magazine which concerns itself directly with the product area, such as gardening or photography. However, the magazines also have a key role to play in the advertising of general consumer products. The new breed of specialist magazines address a lifestyle as much as a particular interest and, as such, are a means of reaching a tightly-targeted audience in a highly relevant environment. Even specialist titles which have been around for some time, such as Country Life, cannot be rivalled for their reach of an elusive, exclusive audience, in an environment which lends itself to the advertising of luxury and upmarket products.

The growth of interest in specialist magazine advertising has been matched by the increasing number of specialist titles available. Last year, the top three magazine markets in terms of circulation growth were music, men's and style, and sports magazines - all specialist sectors. Of the 228 magazine launches in 1995, 117 were specialist titles, representing 64 per cent of the net growth in magazines available for the year. Exhibit 1 shows the net number of new titles for five specialist sectors.

EXHIBIT 1: MAIN SPECIALIST GROWTH SECTORS

Sector Net Growth in titles
Sports
Miscellaneous specialist
Men's lifestyle
Motoring
Music
24
17
7
7
5
   
Source: The Magazine Business

It is clear from the table that the definition 'specialist magazine' is a very broad one. It is, however, true that the majority of titles we call specialist do have a 'specialist' appeal in that they are bought and read in far smaller numbers than a 'general' title such as a TV listings magazine or a women's weekly title. Even men's magazines fall under the specialist banner since they are a minority read - they are still read by less than a fifth of all men despite a three-fold increase in circulation since 1990.

The drawback to this growth has been the failure of industry research to keep up and supply up-to-date research on new titles. This means that there is little information available to use for assessing the suitability of specialist magazines when planning an advertising campaign. Only a fraction of specialist titles on the market have their readership measured by the NRS, and there is no prospect that in the future significantly more specialist titles will be included on the survey. The TGI measures some specialist titles but, again, only a fraction of the market. Data available are therefore patchy. It is supplemented for those titles not on the surveys by in-magazine reader research conducted by individual publishers, but generally these are not widely used and provide little comparative data.

Given the diversity and the number of titles, and the corresponding lack of data, IPC has instigated a programme of research to provide more information on how the magazines and their advertising are read and used, and to supply missing readership figures for a number of specialist titles.

Above all, the aim is to deliver usable data which can be analysed locally on a PC (like NRS and TGI data), to plan schedules and differentiate between titles.

THE ROLE OF THE MAGAZINE AND ADVERTISING

All media have their own USPs to offer advertisers - TV has sound, movement and impact, outdoor has wide reach etc. From our own qualitative research we have been able to identify the corresponding USPs for specialist magazines.

The main benefits to advertisers exist in the relationship that readers have with the magazines and how they read them.

Talking to readers of a wide range of types of specialist magazine, we identified a number of common elements in the relationship that they have with magazines. First, the magazines are not a casual purchase - they are bought regularly and read avidly. The magazines are highly valued by their readers in terms of the information they provide, and the image that they help to create.

Readers of specialist magazines identify very strongly with the magazines - they are an extension of their life. This is expressed most strongly by readers of lifestyle-orientated titles such as music, football and men's titles. For example:

'It's part of your lifestyle, the sort of music you listen to and the magazines you read; it's a part of your image, part of yourself. All these come together to be part of you' (music magazine reader).

The magazines are seen as like-minded messengers, and this has a positive effect on the way in which the ads in the magazine are interpreted by the readers.

The magazines are read very closely - readers become very absorbed in the magazine, often making time to read each issue. An angling magazine reader said: 'I get very absorbed; you shut everything else off and concentrate.'

The magazines offer an environment in which every element of the magazine is closely read and absorbed. More so, one could suggest, than for any other medium. The advertiser already has the reader's attention before he turns the page to the ad.

The magazines are kept beyond their period of currency - in many cases they are referred to over an extended period of time. This offers the potential of a greater number of opportunities to see the ad than, say, in a newspaper.

Readers of all types of specialist magazine put a great deal of trust in the titles. They are seen as authoritative and trustworthy sources of information on their subject, and the advertising is taken more seriously coming from such a trusted source, compared with a more general title. Specialist advertising in specialist magazines forms a continuum with the editorial, and is absorbed in the same frame of mind.

When asked about the role of general advertising in specialist magazines, readers saw advertising appropriate to their lifestyle as wholly appropriate in specialist titles. Readers of golf magazines pointed out that their sport impinges on general purchases they make, as well as making the buying of other products (such as drinks and cars), necessary. They also pointed out that few of these types of products seemed to be advertised in their golf magazines. For example: 'I'm sure we've all, when going to look at a new car, asked "can I get my clubs in the back?" '

In the case of lifestyle titles, the magazines are key to portraying a way of life and the reader's set of values. A wide range of goods and services are associated with the lifestyle and values that many specialist magazines, such as Country Life and Loaded, represent. A number of general products can also be associated with a specific interest, eg energy drinks and football.

Therefore, specialist magazines offer advertisers:

SPECIALIST MAGAZINE VALUES

On to the latest, and largest, wave of the research programme: Specialist Magazine Values. It is the biggest single piece of research into specialist magazines that we know of, providing much more quantitative data about readers, and how they view the magazines and the advertising in them.

We had three main objectives at the outset of the research:

Our aim was to provide research that could be used by anyone planning a campaign, and to provide data which are taken for granted in other media. We wanted to give a clear picture of who the readers of the 90 titles in the research are, their attitudes to their magazines, and how readers of the magazines differ.

The research was conducted by RSL (Research Services Ltd), which is also responsible for conducting the NRS.

THE RESEARCH FOCUS

The research covered 90 specialist magazines representing the main titles in nine magazine sectors: music, men's and style, football, rugby, golf, country, equestrian, classic cars and marine. Thirty-seven of the 90 titles are also measured by the NRS.

The 90 title-specific questionnaires in the research measured both read in past year and average issue readership for the magazines, as well as detailed quality of reading questions such as number of pickups, time spent reading, etc.

The research also included questions relating to readers' attitudes to the magazines, the advertising (both specialist and consumer) in the magazines, and frequency of participating in their interest or activity.

An 'extra information' questionnaire included questions of a more general nature, such as ownership of consumer goods, holidays taken, and so on.

METHODOLOGY

The research used a similar methodology to the NRS in the way that readers of the magazines on the survey were identified. However, the research differs from the NRS in the way that it used actual magazine covers as prompts, rather than mastheads alone.

The research ran over a period of five-and-a-half months, from July 1995 to January 1996. In all, 7,583 read-in-past-year readers of 90 specialist titles were identified over nine waves of CAPIBUS, RSL's face-to-face, in-home omnibus survey. The total CAPIBUS sample over these nine waves was 18,291.

Respondents were shown A4-sized cards with black and white pictures of the magazine covers on them, clustered by sector. Respondents were asked: 'Have you read or looked at any of these types of magazine in the past 12 months?' If the respondent said yes, he or she was handed a set of cards, one for each of the magazines in that sector, with a black and white cover of the relevant magazine on it. Respondents were mailed an individual questionnaire for each title they claimed to have read in the past year.

Respondents were also sent an 'extra information' questionnaire containing product ownership questions and lifestyle statements. This was sent to a further wave of CAPIBUS respondents to obtain all-adult average data.

In all, 29,439 readership questionnaires were mailed, yielding:

COMPARISON WITH THE NRS

Rewardingly, readership for titles included in both Specialist Magazine Values and the NRS are very similar. The gross average issue readership in Specialist Magazine Values for the 37 titles common to the two surveys is 39.9 per cent of all adults. The NRS, for the closest comparable time period gives a figure of 37.5 per cent. Only three titles show a significant difference to their NRS readerships. As an illustration, Exhibit 2 shows a comparison of average issue readership for the five largest titles on the NRS.

EXHIBIT 2: COMPARISON OF AIR FOR THE FIVE LARGEST NRS SPECIALIST

  Specialist magazine values penetration % NRS penetration %
Sky Magazine
Classic Cars
Q
Smash Hits
Golf Monthly
3.8
2.2
2.2
2.2
1.8
3.1
1.8
1.9
1.9
1.9
     
NRS figures are for January to December 1995

RESULTS

The research provides the figures to create schedules using accurate readership data. It also contains information to help differentiate between titles in terms of attitudes to the magazine and advertising, and it is now possible to take account of overlap readership among titles, and therefore minimise wastage.

Who are the readers?

Nearly half of all GB adults (age 15+) are read-in-past-year readers of at least one of the titles included in the research, so the magazines as a whole are not such a minority interest after all. Over a quarter are average issue readers. The most widely read sector is music, with over four million average issue readers (see Exhibit 3).

EXHIBIT 3: READERSHIP PENETRATION BY MAGAZINE SECTOR

  Read in past year Average issue readership
  Numbers reading (000s) Penetration
%
Numbers reading (000s) Penetration
%
Any title
Music
Country
Classic cars
Football
Men's & Style
Golf
Marine
Equestrian
Rugby
22,103
8,351
6,229
5,748
5,633
5,266
2,918
1,869
1,837
1,767
48.3
18.3
13.6
12.6
12.3
11.5
6.4
4.1
4.0
3.9
12,104
4,328
1,316
2,405
2,642
3,024
1,341
717
572
724
26.5
9.5
2.9
5.3
5.8
6.6
2.9
1.6
1.3
1.6
         
Base: all GB adults aged 15+ (45,750,000)

Demographically, specialist magazines deliver a male, upmarket audience - they have a larger proportion of male and abc1 readers than the GB average. Titles with a particularly male bias are classic cars (72 per cent male), and golf (78 per cent male). The magazines offer advertisers of male-orientated products a highly-targeted medium. The most upmarket titles fall within the country sector, where 64 per cent of readers are abc1s.

A number of attitude statements give an idea of the differences between readers. For example, men's and style magazine readers are more outgoing than the average, with 37 per cent agreeing strongly that they enjoy meeting lots of new people. Golf magazine readers are ambitious, with 56 per cent agreeing that they always set their sights high.

Quality of reading

Comparisons with other media are difficult to make, as there is little research available which so comprehensively measures the qualitative aspects of how individuals consume the medium.

However, readers spend an average of 85 minutes reading their magazines. This varies by sector with marine magazine readers spending an average of 99 minutes reading, compared to 75 minutes for football magazine readers. In contrast to earlier research conducted by IPC Weeklies group, specialist magazines appear to be read for significantly longer than other types of print media (see Exhibit 4).

EXHIBIT 4: AVERAGE TIME SPENT READING AN ISSUE

  Average time spent reading
Specialist magazines*
Women's monthlies
Women's weeklies
TV magazines
Colour supplements
Daily newspapers
85 minutes
59 minutes
51 minutes
42 minutes
30 minutes
32 minutes
   
Source: IPC Women's Weeklies Quality of Reading Research 1990, except *Specialist Magazine Values

The findings from Specialist Magazine Values invariably support the conclusions drawn from the earlier qualitative research with specialist magazine readers. For example, specialist magazines are read avidly - 91 per cent of readers read half or more of the magazine. Fewer than a tenth of readers claim to read less than half of the magazine. The magazines are picked up frequently - five times on average per issue. One in seven readers picks up the magazine to read on ten or more occasions. This high number of separate pickups increases the chances of the average ad in a specialist magazine being seen frequently.

The readers of the magazines give unanimous approval to the magazines - over 50 per cent of readers rate the magazines as 'very good', and nearly all as either very good or good.

Advertising

Advertising in specialist magazines could never be described as wallpaper. Over two-fifths of readers have bought something as a result of seeing it advertised in the magazine in the last 12 months - not surprising since 90 per cent agreed that they read the advertisements in the magazine (Exhibit 5). The majority also agreed that the advertising in the magazines keeps them informed of what is available, and helps them to decide what to buy and where to go.

EXHIBIT 5: % AGREEING THAT THEY HAVE BOUGHT SOMETHING ADVERTISED IN THE LAST FINANCIAL YEAR

  %
Any title
Music
Men's & Style
Equestrian
Rugby
Football
Golf
Country
Marine
Classic Cars
41
59
44
44
42
40
36
22
22
16
   
Base: Average issue readers (excluding no answer)

Readers' lifestyle

The research shows that specialist magazine readers are an appealing audience. They earn on average over 3,000 more than the average GB adult. They are likely to drink more beer and lager per head than the average and travel in the UK and abroad. Specialist magazine readers are generally innovators who look out for new products to buy, and are more likely to own a mobile phone and have access to the Internet than the average adult.

SUMMARY

For the first time this research provides a wealth of data for the magazines in the nine sectors covered, including over 50 titles which until now had no readership data.

The research is being made available to agencies through the IMS and Telmar planning systems - agencies therefore have a much wider range of information to call upon when planning campaigns in specialist magazines. We hope that the additional information provided by the research will provide strong justification for the wider use of specialist magazines on advertising schedules, and will arouse the interest of potential advertisers in a fast-growing and highly-targeted medium.



http://www.warc.com
NTC Publications Ltd