Digital Magazine Audience Grows, Still Lags Print

June 19, 2018

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Customer-Centric | Digital | Email | Industries | Magazines | Media & Entertainment | Social Media | Spending Trends

Some 42.4% of US adults with internet access report reading at least a single digital magazine issue in the past 30 days, according to the 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study. That represents a 15% increase from 36.8% doing so in 2015, as the gap between print and digital magazine reach narrows.

All the same, print magazine reach isn’t dwindling as quickly as one might expect. This year, more than 6 in 10 respondents (62.8%) report actively reading print magazines, representing an approximately 10% decrease from 2015.

MarketingCharts’ own US Media Audience Demographics study demonstrates a similar trend. During Spring 2017, 56.1% of adults surveyed said they had read a print edition of a magazine in the previous week, down from 61.7% saying so a couple of years earlier. The report reveals strong discrepancies in print magazine readership by age, with adults ages 65 and older about twice as likely as those ages 18-24 to report having read a print magazine in the past week (73% and 36%, respectively).

The print magazine audience tends to be skewing older over time, too. The report’s 2017 data showed that 44.7% of US monthly magazine readers were aged 55 and older, compared to 41.2% in 2015. By comparison, just 29.9% of online adults who had visited a magazine website in the prior 30 days were aged 55 or up in 2017.

Digital Issue Consumption Matches Print

Although digital magazine issues aren’t as widely read as print issues, readers tend to consume about as many digital as print issues, per Mequoda’s report.

This year, the 42% of connected adults reading digital magazines reported reading an average of almost 2.7 (2.66) issues in the last 30 days. That rivals the number of issues read (2.72) by print magazine readers.

While the number of issues consumed by digital issue readers has remained relatively steady since 2015, the average number of print issues consumed by readers has declined from almost 3 (2.94).

This suggests that alongside print’s declining reach, people are also spending less time reading print magazines.

That certainly seems to be the case on a global basis. Between 2011 and 2018 time spent with print magazines around the world has plummeted by 56%, according to Zenith estimates, making print magazines the hardest hit of any traditional media in terms of consumption.

Print magazines continue to enjoy relevance with luxury advertisers, though. So-called “High Luxury” brands – including Watches & Jewelry and Fashion & Accessories – are forecast to allocate fully 55% of their budgets to magazine advertising next year, according to a recent report from Zenith.

Luxury advertisers will be chasing an affluent audience with this spending, at least in the US. As MarketingCharts’ Media Audience Demographics report reveals, affluents (household income of at least $100k) represent almost 4 in 10 (37.4%) adult readers of monthly magazines.

Other Study Highlights

More notable findings from Mequoda’s study follow:

  • Almost 3 in 10 connected adults have paid for premium print or digital magazine content in the past month, with News content (18.2%) the most likely to entice paying readers;
  • Slightly more than 1 in 4 respondents (26%) have paid for digital magazine subscriptions and single copies, with aggregate estimated spending up 16% from 2016;
  • Magazine websites are the most popular form of digital magazine media among readers, followed by magazine social media and magazine email newsletters;
  • Readable and scrollable text are considered the most important digital web and app magazine features; and
  • Magazine readers are now more likely to value web editions (45.3% share) than print (42.7% share) the most, in a shift from 2016, when the opposite was true.

About the Data: The 2018 results are based on a survey of 3,358 US adults with internet access.

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