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The six rules of attraction for magazine media growth

The page and the digital screen nourish each other. That’s at the heart of a fresh way of describing the relationships that consumers develop with their favourite magazine media brands today, writes Guy Consterdine, FIPP’s insight consultant.

The Rules of Attraction study was launched last month by Magnetic, the new marketing agency for magazine media in the UK, and was given its conference debut at FIPP’s Insight Forum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by Magnetic’s consultant Dave Brennan.

Based on 15,000 interviews supplemented by media diaries, in-depth interviews and ‘in-the-moment’ video tasks, all conducted by agency Crowd DNA, The Rules of Attraction explored magazine brands’ roles as they stand today – powered by print but increasingly extended and enhanced by digital.

Six Rules of Attraction

Analysis of the raw data produced six Rules which explain in a fresh way the attraction of the medium to consumers:

  1. Immersion. A sense of luxury, indulgence, me-time.
  2. Stature. Trust, expertise, curation, quality.
  3. Belonging. Communities centred around one’s passions. Like-minded people. Sharing (especially on social media). Personal badging.
  4. Inspiration. Sparking ideas, including from advertising.
  5. Influence. Prompting to action, including purchases.
  6. Growth. Multiple platforms, new offerings.

Growth and the expansion of the consumer experience

There is strong supporting material for all these Rules, but I am particularly struck by the future-facing positivity of the Growth rule. The evidence shows that, through the resilience of print and the complementary benefits of digital, magazines’ effectiveness as a consumer experience and as an advertising vehicle is growing. 

The page and the digital screen nourish each other. This applies to all six Rules of Attraction but it is central to the Growth rule.

Printed magazines and their portability always gave readers access to content anywhere and at any time, but digital platforms take this to an entirely new level through apps, digital editions, websites and social media. 

Digital’s ability to provide truly up-to-date information, new kinds of content such as video, audio, galleries, and two-way communication, and to deliver all this in a personalised way which allows consumers full control of what they access, is creating what the research report calls super-users.

The emergence of super-users

Super-users are those who access magazine content on both print and digital platforms. They are ‘super’ not only in the sense of using more than one platform but also because their emotional and functional involvement with their magazine brands is deepened. Compared with print-only readers, super-users find the magazine brands even more inspirational, pleasurable and relaxing; and on a practical level, even more educational, useful and likely to spark ideas.

Again, compared with print-only readers, when asked the reasons for accessing magazine content, even higher proportions of super-users nominated the familiar aspects: for information, to get ideas on what or where to buy, to follow a passion, for entertainment, to relax, and as a treat. Significantly, the largest percentage increase among super-users compared with print-only readers was “to keep up to date”, a benefit which digital delivers so effectively.

The multi-platform existence is anchoring magazines even more deeply into the audience’s lives and psychology.

Good news for advertisers

All this is good news for advertisers. As has been long established for print, consumers’ engagement with their magazine brands rubs off onto the advertising the brands carry, and the deeper the engagement the greater the rub-off. This includes the advertising in apps and on websites, as other recent studies have confirmed. Four excellent examples are:

Consequently the super-users represent an exceptionally receptive target audience for advertisers’ communications.

Branding holds print + digital together

Super-users will continue to deploy all these platforms, including retaining print. The Rules study found that 96 per cent said they will be reading printed magazines in the future and not give up print in favour of digital.

This is where the magazine medium is at its very best – when consumers are accessing their chosen content across a range of platforms including print. 

Growth for the medium is also coming from new users who are digital-only, thus increasing a brand’s net reach. Moreover for some of these digital-only people the initial discovery of magazine content on websites or through social media is converting a portion of these consumers into print readers too. The research found that almost a third of digital-only readers said they are likely to read printed magazines in the next twelve months.

Whichever direction they initially come from – print-only or digital-only - consumers are increasingly finding that print + digital is the best combination of all. What holds it all together for any one individual is the strength and value of the magazine branding and all that it stands for. That is, the trust and emotional attachment they have in their favourite magazine brands. The other five Rules of Attraction describe the nature of this attachment in considerable depth.

I think we can be very optimistic about the future of magazine media.

Download other presentations from FIPP's Insight Forum.

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