Thursday, November 01, 2007

Age, Income of Magazine Readers Edge Up


Age, Income of Magazine Readers Edge Up
by Erik Sass
THE MEDIAN AGE AND INCOME of magazine readers have edged steadily upwards over the last five years, according to an analysis of data from Mediamark Research and Intelligence, LLC, covering the periods spring 2002-spring 2007. The two related trends contain both promise and peril for consumer magazines, which boast an increasingly affluent audience, but also face the long-term challenge of recruiting younger readers to maintain audience size.
An analysis of 97 leading consumer magazines revealed that over the last five years, 72 saw the median income of readers increase, with 47 of these increasing by $5,000 or more, and 18 increasing $10,000 or more. Over the same period, the median income of the adult population at large increased by about $4,900; thus, about half of magazines at least kept pace with the general population, another one out of six at least doubled the growth rate, and roughly one-third showed slight declines or remained flat.

However, statistics don't do justice to some of the more spectacular increases at individual titles: among the standouts, Barron's rose about $29,000, Elle rose $15,000, Elle D├ęcor rose $22,000, Harper's Bazaar rose $28,000, Outside rose $16,000 and Travel & Leisure rose $17,000.

The rise in income is probably related to increases in the median age of readers at many publications, where mags have again outpaced the population at large. For comparison, the median age of American adult men increased 1.2 years and women increased 1.5 years from spring 2002-spring 2007.

Among the same 97 titles, 52 saw the median age of their readers increase by two years or more from 2002-2007 (in cases where the magazine targets a particular gender, the median age of readers of that gender was used). Within the group that increased by two years or more, 10 titles increased by over three years, and another 16 increased four years or more.

The magazines that saw the biggest increases in median age include Ladies' Home Journal (5.0), Marie Claire (4.9), House Beautiful (5.8), Esquire (5.0), Men's Journal (5.8), and Motor Trend (5.7). More modest increases were seen at Family Circle (3.8), Field & Stream (3.3), Good Housekeeping (2.8), Harper's Bazaar (3.0), Inc. (3.7), Maxim (2.9), Popular Science (2.9), and Rolling Stone (3.3).

Only seven titles out of the 97 reviewed saw the median age of readers decrease. The most notable declines came at Entrepreneur (down 4.2), Star ( 6.1), and Us Weekly (4.8). The median age of readers at Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health, and Vanity Fair all declined a year or less. In this group, Elle stands out because the decline in median age was accompanied by a big increase in median income.

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