Kiwis turn to magazines in pandemic

New research shows that Kiwis have turned to magazines during the pandemic, subscribing in greater numbers and spending longer with their favourite titles. 

Nielsen readership results out now (Q3 2020 – Q2 2021) show that, while overall magazine readership of measured titles is flat compared to a year ago, the important primary readership (the people who subscribe to or buy magazines) is up seven percent. On average these people are spending over an hour (63 minutes) enjoying their favourite magazine – that’s 13 minutes longer than a year ago.

The Nielsen data showed a six percent uplift in subscribers YOY, with almost 1.1 million Kiwis reporting that they pay for their favourite magazine to be delivered to their home. The increase in subscription numbers is also borne out by recent data from leading subscription agency isubscribe, which reports sales of NZ titles for the first half of this year were up 20 percent against a year ago, and 12 percent against 2019.

Magazine Publishers Association Executive Director Sally Duggan says she was not surprised by the results. 

“Over the past year New Zealand has seen fresh new titles launch into a market that is already rich with quality magazines. Kiwis are spoilt for choice: they’re picking up their local magazines, spending time with them, and finding that they’re perfect for this stressful pandemic time.

“Almost two thirds (64 percent) of respondents in our recent Magazine Publishers Association survey (Magazines Matter, 2021) agreed that magazines can help people stay positive when life is tough. And the same number agreed that people feel less isolated when they read their favourite magazine.”

During lockdowns, when people are spending hours at their computers, magazines are particularly valued as a relaxing, “lean back” medium that can be enjoyed at leisure and without constant news flashes or interruptions, Duggan says.

Figures from Ovato Retail showed sales of magazines in supermarkets were up an average of 15 percent on each of the three weeks of the current lockdown.

A deeper delve into the Nielsen readership data from year ending Q1 2021 shows that magazines are particularly strong at targeting many groups who may be valuable to advertisers. Traditional stalwarts like main household shoppers and business decision makers remain heavy magazine readers. In addition, other segments such as food connoisseurs, health-focused Kiwis, renovators and car enthusiasts have a propensity to engage with magazine brands.

Duggan says: “Our research confirmed that magazine advertising still commands considerable attention and enjoys high levels of trust. Ads are generally seen as a valued part of the reading experience. Now is the perfect time for brands to capitalise on New Zealanders’ renewed connection with magazines.”

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