Magazine Readership Off Sharply Among Affluent

Ipsos Survey: Younger Well-Off Readers More Receptive to Ads Than Elders

By Published on .

A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- Magazine readership among the affluent plunged 16% in the past year as the group spent 12% more time using the internet and sharply stepped up purchases of e-readers and tablet computers, according to the annual Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Survey.

The survey of heads of household making at least $100,000 annually also finds that, despite the widespread belief that millennials are more likely to reject or avoid advertising than their elders, younger affluent consumers are actually more interested in ads in all media, including magazines, than their elders.

Magazine readership has slipped modestly in some prior years of the annual survey, which this year garnered more than 13,800 responses, but this is the first double-digit decline, said Ipsos Mendelsohn President Bob Shullman.*

Mr. Shullman said the year-over-year shift represents something he's seen daily on his commute into Manhattan over the past year: the widespread disappearance of magazines and print material in favor of e-readers and other mobile devices. "I was talking to the guy who runs the newsstand at my rail station," Mr. Shullman said, "and he said, 'Bob, I'm basically doing half what I was a year ago.'" Mr. Shullman said he believes much of the shift also comes from traditional media stepping up efforts to drive people to their websites.

The same content in different venues?
"The consumer is getting more and more comfortable with the alternative platforms," he said, adding that he believes affluents are simply getting their content in a different format, not doing away with it.

The Magazine Publishers of America agrees. "It has become increasingly recognized that traditional ways of audience measurement are not capturing the total magazine readership footprint," the group said in an e-mail statement. "Affluents are among the early adopters of new technologies, and thus it's more likely that they would be first in migrating some of their magazine readership to various new digital platforms."

The Ipsos survey was completed in June, only two months after the launch of Apple's iPad, but it already shows nearly a million of the nation's more than 44 million affluent heads of household owned tablet computers and another 2 million owned e-readers.

Fewer titles, fewer issues read, TV stable
Another 3.1 million of the affluent said they plan to buy such devices in the next year. That was among factors helping fuel a 16% decline in both the average number of magazine titles and the number of individual issues read annually by affluent heads of household to 5.9 and 13.3, respectively, Mr. Shullman said. Average weekly hours of TV viewing, on the other hand, remained essentially unchanged at 17.6 hours.

The good news for advertisers, even magazine advertisers, is that more than 80% of the affluent have seen some TV or magazine advertising in the past six months, and half or more say they have considerable or some interest in such ads.

Measuring interest in various forms of advertising among the affluent for the first time, the survey found heads of household ages 18 to 34 more receptive to advertising than their elders in all but one medium: newspapers.

Open to advertising
The 18-to-34 group was 13% more likely to be considerably or somewhat interested in TV ads than older affluents. The younger group was also 9% more likely to be receptive to magazine ads, 28% more likely to be receptive to website ads, 47% more likely to be receptive to cinema ads and as much as twice as likely to be receptive to transit advertising than older affluents.

Business and financial news readership and TV viewership appear to have been particularly hard hit in the past year, Mr. Shullman said, and that appears linked to a growing number of affluents losing interest in investing in financial markets, with 7% fewer planning to invest in stocks or mutual funds -- the second straight annual decline.

The survey also found a sharp 17% to 19% decline in the number of affluents planning to vacation outside the U.S. or take cruises compared to a year ago. But the rich are more interested in things closer to home, such as having babies. The survey found a 13% increase in affluent heads of household planning to have babies, to 2.2 million in the next year.

More auto spending planned
After holding back spending on autos, the wealthy also plan to hike spending there, with a 24% increase in the number planning to buy or lease a new car, truck or SUV in the next year. With high unemployment and increased focus on paying down debt constraining consumer spending by the rest of U.S. consumers, consumers making over $100,000 annually have become an increasingly important determinant of consumer spending for the whole economy, Mr. Shullman said.

He said the group, while accounting for only 21% of the population, makes up 60% of household income and 70% of wealth in the U.S.

Reflecting growing interest by marketers in reaching the affluent, Mr. Shullman said Nielsen Co. has agreed with Ipsos to fuse data from its TV ratings with the Mendelsohn affluent database for the first time.

Younger affluent more into ads then elders

Medium or place Interested Affluents (in millions)* Interest index for 18-34 group TV 24.3 113 Magazine 22.4 109 Newspaper 21.3 95 Grocery stores 19.3 103 Websites 16.7 128 Department stores 14.7 106 Direct mail 14.6 113 Shopping malls 13.1 119 Billboards 12.1 125 Restaurants 11.3 118 Movie Theaters 11.1 147 *Described as somewhat or considerably interested.
Source: Ipsos Mendelsohn

Affluent attention shifts from magazines to internet

Change from 2009 Average number of magazine issues read (out of 139 titles listed) annually 13.3 -16% Average weekly hours on internet 25.3 +12% Average hours of weekly TV viewing 17.6 -1% Source: Ipsos Mendelsohn

~ ~ ~
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of Ipsos Mendelsohn President Bob Shullman.

In this article:
Most Popular