Men, their Motives and their Magazines

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Some men pile their coffee tables with old copies of Guns & Ammo, while others weigh down the lids of their toilet tanks with Newsweek and PC World. One might guess that a study of American men by a magazine publisher would help clarify the difference between comic book fans, sports aficionados and tattoo magazine subscribers. Instead, eMap set a much more ambitious goal: to segment the entire male population into five distinct marketing categories.

eMap, which is owned by the same parent company as American Demographics, publishes Motor Trend, FHM, Bowhunting and a host of other men's titles. In the fall of 2000, the publisher surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 men, ages 18 to 49, to examine the key differences, by demographics and attitude, among the various species of the American male, with the goal, of course, to sell more magazines.

The company's analysis, format and findings echo the classic 1978 segmentation performed by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Called the Values and Lifestyles Program (VALS), SRI conducted a survey of people's attitudes about themselves and the world. The company based its segmentation on the idea that consumer behavior is linked to attitudes, not just demographics. The study ultimately divided consumers into two broad groups: “inner-directed� and “outer-directed.�

David Forier, eMap's research director, acknowledges that the publisher's study is a VALS-like segmentation of American men, dividing them into five mutually exclusive categories defined by their social attitudes and self-perceptions. “It's a work in progress,� says Forier.

According to the study, the entire male population can be divided into these categories: Traditionalists (27 percent), Searchers (22 percent), Achievers (20 percent), Fast-Trackers (17 percent) and Young Urban Techies (14 percent).

The first three categories are the older men. Traditionalists, whom eMap considers “the backbone of America,� typically make $45,000, hold religion and family dear and have a modest opinion of themselves. They like reading about cars (41 percent) and hunting (38 percent). Searchers, as their name implies, are more adrift. They are likely to be divorced or to live alone. They typically earn $45,000, and they watch a lot of sci-fi on TV. Achievers have an average age of 38 and make the most money (median income $75,000). They exhibit confidence in almost every area of their lives, including their family life and abilities. They read business magazines, newsweeklies and computer magazines.

Fast-Trackers are typically 25 years old and make $35,000 a year. They are not as conservative as the Traditionalists. (See chart, below.) These men want to be part of the mainstream, prizing money and predicting their own success — 81 percent say they will eventually “be at the top,� compared with 68 percent of all men. The other twentysomething category, Young Urban Techies, seems to be the most “inner-directed� (to borrow SRI's term). Marketers have traditionally sought out inner-directed men, because they are the trendsetters, less likely to join the herd and more likely to try a new product on its merits. The Young Urban Techies typically make $45,000, they are 27 years old, and they are well educated (76 percent have gone to college). They are also progressive politically. They like reading newsweeklies, home electronics rags and political magazines.

While this segmentation illuminates many differences among 18- to 49-year-old men, there is some debate as to whether a VALS-like approach makes sense in an era that has become even more niche oriented, especially in the magazine industry. Roger Selbert, a trend consultant with the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, Growth Strategies Group, wonders why eMap didn't just survey its own subscribers and then examine how their qualities measure up with non-subscribers. A five-category segmentation may be overly simplified, he says. “In this era, mass customization works because there are so many different categories.� eMap's Forier agrees that the survey was a broad undertaking, and he's not yet sure how it will translate into ad sales or subscriptions. “We just want to know men better than the next guy,� he says.

For more information, call John Russel, (818) 501-0700.

Ask the Fellas

According to eMap, no group is less satisfied with life in general than the Searchers.

Are satisfied with life in general 59% 45% 81% 51% 66%
Are satisfied with their income 39% 36% 56% 28% 38%
Consider themselves intellectual 55% 50% 80% 62% 87%
Consider themselves religious 62% 29% 61% 15% 36%
Think there is too much sex and violence on TV 55% 32% 53% 11% 26%
Think same-sex marriage is OK 8% 27% 25% 31% 39%
Source: eMap
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