Median Age of Magazine Readers Rises

by , May 26, 2009, 3:18 PM
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magazinesSince 2001, 64 of 90 leading consumer magazines have seen the median age of their readers increase faster than the population at large, according to a MediaPost analysis of the latest figures from Mediamark Research & Intelligence. The analysis, based on MRI's spring 2009 measurements, confirms the continuation of a long-term trend previously observed in 2006-2008.

Overall, between spring 2001 and spring 2009, the median age of readers for the 90 leading publications increased an average of 3.1 years, versus an average increase of 2.1 years for the population at large.

The same trend was apparent when magazines were sorted into the categories of women's magazines, men's magazines and general interest. Among the 41 magazines that mostly target women, the median age of female readers increased an average of 3 years, versus 2.3 years for the female population in general. Among the 25 magazines that mostly target men, the median age of male readers increased an average of 3.5 years, versus 2 years for the male population in general. And among the 24 general interest titles, the median age of readers increased an average of 2.5 years, versus 2.1 years for the population at large.

Among the 64 magazines that saw the median age of readers increase at a faster pace than the population at large, 29 titles targeting women saw the median age of female readers increase an average 4.3 years, while 20 titles targeting men increased 4.1 years, and 15 general interest titles increased 3.8 years. The total circulation of the 29 women's magazines considered here decreased from 55.2 million to 54.6 million, a drop of about 1%, as the total circulation of the men's titles dropped from 26.1 million to 24.6 million -- a 6% decline. The 15 general interest titles under consideration saw their total circulation decrease from 32.1 million to 26.4 million, a drop of about 18%.

MDN chart-ages of magazne audiences

Some titles showed significantly bigger increases in the median age of their core readership from 2001-2009. Women's titles with big increases include Harper's Bazaar, (up 6.9 years), Martha Stewart Living (6.4 years), Country Living (6 years), Ladies' Home Journal (5.8 years), House Beautiful (5.7 years), Gourmet (5.7 years), Entertainment Weekly (5.4 years), Bon Appetit (5 years) and Health (5 years). The median age of female readers also increased between 4 and 4.9 years at Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, In Style, Modern Bride, Redbook, Soap Opera Digest and Woman's Day.

A number of titles that target men saw significant increases in the median age of their male readership. Among these were Automobile (up 7 years), Hot Rod (7 years), Road & Track (5 years), Field & Stream (5 years), Spin (4.9 years), Motor Trend (4.6 years), and Outdoor Life (4.6 years).

Finally, the median age of readers also increased at some big general interest titles, like Kiplinger's Personal Finance (up 5.9 years), U.S. News & World Report (5.7 years), This Old House (5.2 years), Architectural Digest (4.8 years), Smart Money (4.8 years), and Reader's Digest (4.5 years). Newsweeklies Time and Newsweek increased 3.2 years and 2.6 years, respectively.

Of the remaining 26 titles, eight saw the median age of their core readership decrease from 2001-2009. This group includes Cosmopolitan, where the median age of female readers fell from 32 years to 30.3; People, where the median age of female readers inched down from 40.5 to 40.3; Popular Science, where the median age of adult readers overall slipped from 43.3 to 43; Runner's World, where the median age of adult readers overall fell from 36.9 to 35.6; Scholastic Parent & Child, where the median age of female readers fell from 34.7 to 34; Seventeen, where the median age of female readers fell from 28 to 25.9; Skiing , where the median age of adult readers overall swooped from 38.6 to 33.7; and Star, where the median age of female readers plunged from 41.1 to 36.5.

1 comment on "Median Age of Magazine Readers Rises".

  1. Kip Cassino from Borrell Associates
    commented on: May 27, 2009 at 9:10 a.m.

    Back in the day, newspapers made a mistake when looking at "age of reader" data. We thought it showed that when people reached a certain age, they somehow morphed into newspaper readers.
    However, when "date of birth" is substituted for "age," the truth becomes apparent. People aren't starting to read as they get older ... instead, younger people are simply reading less. There was a really good presentation, "Born to Read?", given at the NAA Marketing Conference a few years ago, that definitively proves the point. I think it may still be available as a PPT from that organization.
    My guess is that if the magazine data are examined the same way, the same fall-off by generation will be found.

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