Do people read magazines anymore? You wouldn’t have thought so looking at the waifer thin publications passing for magazines these days. As with newspapers, circulation has tumbled as readers flock online – and advertising revenue has fled along with them.
But whilst commercial magazines are struggling, there’s one sector that’s booming. The latest figures show that, in terms of circulation, branded customer magazines account for the top 5, with 23 in the top 100.
And with 65% of customer magazines experiencing growth, it’s not just the supermarkets benefiting from this trend. Clothing retailers have been busy signing up the fashion world’s leading journalists to provide expert editorial to go with the eyecandy in their magazine style catalogues.
Why customer magazines are a great idea for brands
Shoppers are pretty savvy these days. They know customer magazines are just a sales vehicle. But they don’t care as long as they’re free and offer an entertaining read.
It’s estimated that, on average, people will spend 25 minutes reading a customer magazine. That’s nearly half an hour they’re engaged with your brand. Obviously, pushing sales messages isn’t going to work if you want to keep them reading for this long. So popular customer magazines offer useful, interesting content in exchange for a subtle sales pitch weaved into the pages.
Customer magazines are a powerful vehicle for adding depth to a brand and delivering a cross channel experience. You might think the costs would be prohibitive. But in many cases, producing a magazine can be cheaper than conventional advertising.
It’s estimated the UK’s customer magazine industry grew 16% between 2008 and 2009, and is expected to grow a further 22% by 2013. So I think we can soon expect to see many more branded magazines cluttering up coffee tables.
Branded customer magazines worth flicking through
Asos – Always ahead of the game, Asos released their customer magazine way back in 2006. It’s now grown to become the UK’s second most popular women’s fashion magazine, with 450,000 copies posted to Asos’ loyal customers.
Net-a-Porter – This luxury shopping site set the benchmark for customer magazines by etailers. The site attracts 2.5 million shoppers a month and produces a glossy magazine packed with glamorous photoshoots of its clothing. Its now released a menwear’s site, Net Porter, so more men can buy the latest brands without the pain of traipsing around the shops.
ShortList – This is the #1 men’s lifestyle magazine, with over ½ million weekly readers. It’s handed out for free in many UK cities, or you can subscribe online and get it delivered, so long as you’re happy to cover the £1 postage.
Superdrug’s Dare – This health and beauty magazine often features celebrities on the cover and has recently been given a facelift. This month’s edition is also the UK’s first magazine to use digital watermarking, which enables readers to scan products with their smartphone and then buy them on Superdrug’s website.
BDA (Buckingham Design Associates) blog – real people giving real opinions, and a complete lack of agency waffle. Award winners BDA deliver an exciting blend of design and creative marketing for the Oxford, Milton Keynes, Northampton and London region.