Customer magazines have undergone consistent and exponential growth over the past 10 years and the market is now valued at a staggering £313m (MINTEL 2002). This growth is evident in both volume of magazines sent – Royal Mail figures show a year-on-year volume increase of 15 per cent – and from the number of magazines that are established every year.
There are many reasons why customer magazines have grown in the way they have and which explain the medium’s success over such a spectrum of vertical sectors. These attributes also explain why, once again, customer magazines dominate the top of the ABC tables and why they have outperformed consumer magazines in eight out of the top 10 places.
There has always been a great deal of debate about the fact that some customer magazines aren’t paid for and should therefore be reported differently to paid-for titles. However, recent research has shown that consumers treat non-paid-for titles in the same way as paid-for titles in terms of readership. Similarly, readership figures show that customer magazines are among the most popular magazines in the UK: four out of five of the most widely read magazines are customer magazines.
The customer magazine market has come into its own in recent years.
It continues to perform well due to its ability to deliver targeted, relevant and quality editorial on a one-to-one basis that engages the consumer in a way that no other medium can.
This ability to target and personalise means that, presently, more than 75 per cent of customer magazines are posted directly to the consumer, and a recent study commissioned by the Association of Publishing Agencies showed that 78 per cent of consumers prefer to receive their customer magazines by mail. In fact, 58 per cent of consumers are more likely to read magazines and respond to offers if they are personally addressed to them. This high level of targeting minimises wastage for advertisers by reaching the consumer wherever they are via the Royal Mail network and at the opportune moment to influence purchase behaviour.
Also, as direct marketing has grown over the past 10 years, marketing strategies have been through a significant life-cycle as marketers strived to build long-term effective relationships with their customers. As such, we have seen a change from loyalty marketing through to customer relationship management to where we are today: data-driven customer management.
This has all been aided by the advancement in CRM technologies and sophistication in segmentation and analysis techniques.
The APA recently announced its partnership with the Advertising Agency Register, an independent and impartial agency selection service, to help match a client’s brief for a customer magazine to a publishing agency’s expertise, resource and culture. This is a major landmark for the customer magazine sector and most importantly has been driven by client demand.
Julia Hutchison is a director of the Association of Publishing Agencies