2005 Fall MRI Study Details Household Income by Title

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Celebrity gossip magazines may not get much respect, but their readers live in higher-earning households than the readers of many chic and celebrated titles.
'In Touch' has climbed to the top of the celebrity weekly category in terms of having the most affluent readers.

Bauer Publishing’s fast-growing In Touch Weekly has surged to the top of the celebrity weekly category in terms of average household income, according to the fall 2005 report from Mediamark Research Inc. In Touch readers have an average household income of $66,180, topping rivals like Wenner Media’s Us Weekly ($65,169) and Time Inc.’s People ($63,364) for the first time.

It also surpasses household incomes for readers of well-regarded and widely-read titles like Martha Stewart Living ($65,995) and Conde Nast’s Vogue ($60,432) and Glamour ($55,260).

No longer 'downscale'
“Years back, let’s call it 10 years ago, the phenomenon of celebrity was more of a working-class or downscale phenomenon,” said Bob Davidowitz, publisher, In Touch. “It’s now a phenomenon that’s gotten much broader appeal and appeals to the more sought-after demographic.”

The category’s success at reeling in relatively high-income households may also reflect its strength at the newsstand, Mr. Davidowitz said, noting that 97% of In Touch sales come from retail. “We have been saying since the magazine was conceived that the newsstand woman is a younger, more affluent, more educated consumer.”

Excluding custom magazines published by airlines, the title whose readers reported the highest household income was Conde Nast Traveler, at $101,102.

Supplemental metrics
The syndicated research from Mediamark, generally called MRI, provides advertisers and agencies with important metrics to supplement the basic paid circulation figures that are collected and eventually verified by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

But it is never the final word. “MRI is part of the overall evaluation among many criteria depending on what your objective is for a specific plan, product or what have you,” said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of print investment, MediaVest. “We look beyond that and uncover every stone from editorial content to proprietary research to positioning to merchandising and extensions.”

Star lags the celebrity category by household income, at $48,130 in the fall report, but gained ground from $45,171 in the spring. American Media has been pushing to improve Star’s appeal to readers and advertisers under the direction of Bonnie Fuller, whom it hired away from Us Weekly in 2003.

'Handguns' pass-along is tops
Enthusiast magazines dominated readers-per-copy as usual. While general-audience books typically showed single-digit readers per copy, Handguns magazine led the pack with 41.46 readers per copy. Others with heavy pass-along included Popular Hot Rodding (25.79 readers per copy), Sport Truck (24.24) and Bridal Guide (22.15). Handguns, Popular Hot Rodding and Sport Truck are all published by Primedia.

Because of pass-along and multiple readers, MRI audience research generally paints a very different picture than paid circulation figures alone. People, which wasn’t even in the top 10 by paid circulation in the first half of this year, had the largest audience in the new research: nearly 40.3 million people. Better Homes & Garden was a close second with an audience of nearly 40.2 million, even though its paid circulation is shy of 7.7 million.

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