Mags: What are Aussies reading?

Metrosexual males, healthy ladies, cooking enthusiasts, domestic travellers and the politically partial – these are the people who helped keep the magazine industry afloat in 2009 as the tabloid weeklies and homemaker categories lost ground, according to the latest Roy Morgan Readership Survey.

The biggest readership gainer was News Magazines' GQ, which posted a massive, ego-boosting 133% increase, while Pacific Magazines' Women's Health (up 28.4%) continued its mountain-climbing momentum, surpassing lifestyle glossy Cleo for the first time in readership numbers.

Surprisingly, three independently published titles – Australian Traveller (up 53.1%), The Monthly (up 45.2%) and Recipes+ (up 31.9%) – left the big publishers in their wake, defying the GFC to increase their followings with impressive results. All these titles, bar GQ, which isn't audited (shame, as it would have made for a more convincing comparison), also posted circulation gains for the same period.

Added to positive circulation results for Frankie and RUSSH, you've got to wonder if, despite their overall lower sales numbers, if the independents' market defiance has been boosted by stronger reader relationships. They may not have the marketing budgets of ACP, Pacific or News, but these niche titles are clearly not as disposable to their loyal readers when times get tough – in fact, they've just become more appealing than their mass-market counterparts. Aussies still love an underdog.


Famous magazine continues to impress in the glossip category, closing the gap on the ailing NW to just 44,000 readers. Editor Gereurd Roberts said: "Famous has cemented its position as the magazine for the celebrity obsessed, image conscious young woman. On the back of our recent circulation increase, the readership increase re-affirms our position as the hottest magazine in the celebrity weekly market." The magazine's competitive cover price, social media strategy, cover design and strong editorial direction are clearly having the desired results.


Another win for Pacific Magazines, That's Life ("the magazine with heart") is the number-one selling real-life mag with 56% of the market's readership. With a circulation of 283,759, clearly there's a lot of sharing going on amongst the ladies.


Reflecting its circulation gain, Harper's Bazaar's readership results might be a positive reflection on editor Edwina McCann's direction (she jumped on board in June 2009, with the December issue her first fully-fledged edition), but those attention-grabbing covermounts probably haven't hurt. Together with InStyle, it defined the glossy market trend to post an impressive gain.


Teen readership results are reflective of circulation, with gaps between Dolly and Girlfriend sitting around 40,000. This is relatively good news for Girlfriend considering Dolly's aggressive covermounting strategy.


A big drop in readership for Blitz Publications' Women's Health and Fitness was the unfortunate result of Pacific Magazines' Women's Health's superstar results (attributable to brand presence across Pacific-affiliated media and events, a clever social networking strategy and strong editorial vision). Perhaps it needs a name change: readers might just be confused?


The nation's food obsession (concurrent to our obesity problem?) continued to drive results in the foodie category, with Recipes+ the stand-out gainer, Delicious attracting readers with its impressive contributor list and its News Magazines stablemate Super Food Ideas continuing to benefit from its Woolworths association (times may have been tough, but Aussies still had to food shop and, um, eat).


They may have been food shopping, but Aussies weren't necessarily swapping tips on homemaking. The category took a dip, though Pacific's behemoth Better Homes and Gardens continued its domination with a 4.3% rise, while ACP's Real Living (up 9.6%) and News Magazines' Vogue Living (up 8.2%) shared the love.

The conspicuous fall in Burke's Backyard's numbers would be sweet news for Donna Hay (whose eponymous magazine posted a gain of 7.4%) given their public parsnip joust last August – is this a case of publishing karma? Aussies love a sledging match but arguing over the humble parsnip as the GFC affected families at hip-pocket level was just embarrassing. And, frankly, un-Australian.

GWAS Note: If you spot any discrepancies in the above data, please leave a friendly comment and I shall amend ASAP. Merci!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

Good analysis Erica.