The renaissance of print magazines

Andrew Cook, director of sales at Are Media, explains how and why sales of print magazines are growing.

The digital world is developing faster than you can say “AI”. Whether we realise it or not, we are glued to our screens, constantly scrolling and being fed thousands of messages daily. Combine that with a skyrocketing cost of living and worries about the state of the world, and it’s no surprise Australians are collectively feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  

We also know that, while Aussies are curbing spending, they are trying hard to maintain some joy in their lives. One area they are finding that joy? Print magazines.   

We are watching interest rates and house costs climb, we are chasing the lowest petrol prices, seeking out grocery specials and making our smashed avo at home with our coffee. Despite these cost-cutting measures, magazines are on the rise. Magazine readership just clocked its sixth consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth according to Roy Morgan data. Are Media’s titles recorded a 4% year-on-year increase in December 2023 to an average of 6.04 million readers a month.  

What is it that makes magazines an affordable luxury? Why are magazines protected from household budget cuts?  

Audiences are telling us it’s because they provide a break from the worries and pressures of day-to-day life. At the same time, they represent a way to escape the digital and social media noise: 72% of readers say they love the feeling of physically holding a magazine. 

More people are going into supermarkets and newsagents to actually pick up a magazine, or two, or three. As travel returns, magazine sales are growing through airports as consumers look forward to switching onto plane mode and sinking into a good read. 

After years in lockdowns and isolation, the connection and community offered by magazines are proving powerful enough to keep people coming back for the latest issue every week or month. Pop into your local beauty and hair salons and magazines are back, being read by the people who have the money to treat themselves.  

We’re also seeing the average age of the audience decreasing with younger generations actively enjoying magazines. This is partly due to inter-generational sharing, but this young audience is also proving quite happy to pay for our content and recommended products, whether via a print magazine or an online marketplace.   

Importantly, these figures aren’t shared to be boastful of our own brands, but to indicate a trend toward trusted brands that deliver a sense of community in a fragmented world that makes community harder to find. Communities drive connection, and connection sparks intention for buyers. That’s exactly what any good magazine delivers; in some cases, it’s what they have delivered for decades. It’s why people are happy to pay for a magazine off the shelf: they trust the editorial content to guide or inspire their next decision or purchase. 

As the magazine industry continues to evolve into an omnichannel world with multiple touchpoints, that heritage, that sense of community, and that ability to inspire that audiences are craving will only magnify. It’s why we’re seeing online audiences flourish alongside print, and as these brands continue to engage and audiences continue to rally around the communities they offer, an “and magazines” approach will become increasingly powerful.  


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