Glossy Talk: Talking teen magazines

Glossy Talk: Talking teen magazines

By Georgie Carroll

If you were to look in my bedroom, you would find piles, and piles, and, uh, piles of magazines. On top of random titles I buy when the mood hits, I have every issue released over the past six years of both Girlfriend and Dolly, and my favourite day of the month is still when the newest issues hit the stand. I always thought this was fairly normal teen behaviour, and once upon a time it may have been, but recent circulation results have shown that less Australian teens are buying magazines.

I was intrigued by this, and so turned to my own blog and readers. One thing I knew a lot of my blog readers shared was a love of glossies, so I set up a survey to get their opinions on magazines. The results, while not overly shocking, don’t paint a pretty picture for the teen mag industry.

While 91% of respondents say they read magazines and 62% say they read them every month, only 21% still read Girlfriend and 26% read Dolly. When asked at what age they felt they had ‘outgrown’ the teen titles, most responded with ’16’.

As 16-year-old Eliza commented, an explanation for this could be the current trend of girls feeling like they need to grow up more quickly, and therefore skipping from Total Girl to Cleo with maybe a slight pause in the middle (Girlfriend and/or Dolly).

Emma, aged 16, added that she feels many teens have stopped reading magazines because they no longer feel they’re ‘cool’. Others, still, played the repetitive card (and after six years of reading, I feel I’ve read every possible combination for features and quizzes too), or say it’s a waste of their money to pay $6 to find out things like “What Kind Of Lazy Are You”.

It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that when asked why they thought less teens were reading magazines, almost everyone answered, "because of the internet". That said, 65% of those surveyed claim to still rely on magazines rather than the internet for things like celebrity gossip and fashion tips.

Many magazines are focusing on updating their websites more frequently and featuring lots of online content, though 46% of those who answered my poll said they never log onto magazine websites.

A whopping 92% said they regularly read a blog, mainly because they enjoy finding other teens who share their interests or because they, as my best friend said, are not filled with "all the crap that annoys me in magazines, like sealed sections and embarrassing stories".

Dolly’s major marketing strategy in 2010 was to attach extravagant covermounts to every issue, so I asked if these ‘freebies’ encouraged readers to pick up a magazine. Surprisingly, 62% said no. Many commented that they especially dislike it when they’re not actually free and inflate the cover price. Others added that over the years they’ve just ended up with a pile of what, at the end of the day, is rather useless junk.

On the subject of what makes them want to buy a magazine, nearly everyone answered with the articles featured and number of interesting reads. Everyone agreed they’d rather spend their money on something chock-a-block with features they can spend time reading, rather than something with lots of fashion and pictures they just flick through.

Responses were varied when I asked what readers would like to see in mags, although my close friend, 16-year-old Maddison, had an interesting answer. She said,

“Something that actually matters. News stories that matter, and not just something way, way dumbed down. I want to see business, finance news, politics. Just because we're girls doesn't mean we don't get or want to see it.”

To that, 16-year-old Andrew added, “I think there should be more intellectualism and environmentalism in teen mags”, and 16-year-old May contributed, “Magazines tend to write about what they think teenagers are into, such as Justin Bieber, Twilight etc. when quite a few people actually aren't into those things at all.”

As Andrew finished, “All the information [teens] need can be found on the internet, or even on their phones. What are certain celebrities up to? Celebrity blogs. How to kiss? There's an app for that.”  Of those surveyed, 45% said they get all their news online.

Despite the shocking circulation figures and lure of the net, I for one will continue to buy magazines in print. As my best friend said, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of flicking through a new magazine for the first time.

Check out Georgie's blog

Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

Out of interest, how many people did you survey?

frangipani princess said...

Hey :)
I surveyed 23 of my readers who were aged between 15 and 21 :)

Kim said...

I'm over in England and one of the major magazines in a few days. (Sugar)It has shocked me because like you my room was full of magazines and were part of my life. There's nothing like sitting down with friends and flicking through quizzes. I stopped reading them at a late age when they revamped my favourite two. It was all celebrities, make-up and an obsession with boys. Gone were the articles about the environment, school or anything that used to interest me. I know it seems that the internet is to blame but I think that some magazines have become very repetitive with the same information, again and again. I also agree with what you said about skipping straight to the older magazines. There is this need for teens to grow up fast and learning about how to have sex probably seems more important then anything else. I'm not a teen anymore but I remember what attracted me to magazines in the first place. It was the chance to know what was happening elsewhere as well as back home. Blogs often give you a different view and something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I have finally found someone who agrees!
When I asked my friend if she liked the nail foils in the February 2012 issue of Girlfriend, she replied ''I can't be bothered buying them anymore.''
(At time of writing)DOLLY March 2012 comes out tomorrow and I have literally been counting down the minutes until it comes out!!!
I am obsessed with magazines and I read them again and again and again.
I read Total Girl with my younger sister, Girlfriend and Dolly with myself.
I read the same copies again and again. And again. Throw in a couple more hundred times and you might just reach it.
So, I am glad people feel the same way about mags as I do.
xoxo G
PS I heart the bonus gifts