TORONTO: Canadian magazine readers remain loyal to the print versions of their favorite titles, with fewer than one in ten newsstand customers – and one in twenty women readers – having purchased an e-edition in the past year, according to a national survey. “A strong majority of Canadian magazine readers still prefer a physical copy of their magazines over a digital format,” concludes the survey, conducted by Leger Marketing for Periodical Marketers of Canada.
Nationwide, nine per cent of magazine readers reported having bought an electronic edition of a magazine, with 14 per cent planning to do so in the next year. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they prefer to read print magazines rather than electronic editions, citing the portability of magazines, the tactile experience of reading print, and ease of browsing. In comparison, books have gained a larger electronic following, with the survey showing that 24 per cent of Canadians have bought an e-edition of a book in the past year. The online survey of 1,583 Canadian magazine readers carried out in January 2012 identified women readers and residents of Quebec as having the strongest preference for print format magazines.
Those who have purchased e-editions of magazines also tend to be heavier print consumers. While 45 per cent of all respondents said they have bought a magazine at a newsstand in the past month, 56 per cent of those who have bought e-editions have also bought print copies. John Harrington, editor of the industry newsletter New Single Copy, said “This is a landmark study which conclusively demonstrates the ongoing viability of print magazines, particularly the role they play in the retail marketplace.” While two of five Canadians have reduced their magazine purchases at newsstands in the past three years, most say this is for economic reasons stemming from the recession, not from a loss of interest in magazines. However, 14 per cent of women and 16 per cent of readers between 18 and 34 say they have actually increased their magazine purchases.
“The so-called doomsday scenario that has print magazines doomed to obscurity is just a myth,” says Ray Argyle, executive director of PMC. “The trend seems to point toward the purchase of single copies and away from mail subscriptions,” he added. “Seventy per cent of over-65s have mail subscriptions compared to 45 per cent of those under that age, while many in the under-35 group are buying more, not fewer, magazines at the newsstand.”
Three-quarters of respondents said they check the magazine racks when they visit stores selling magazines, especially supermarkets and drugstores. Women readers, who constitute a majority of supermarket shoppers, also rate as the heaviest magazine consumers with 34 per cent saying they buy a magazine once or month or more often, and 55 per cent intending to do so in the next month.Buyers of e-editions are also heavier print consumers, with 56 per cent saying they have purchased a print magazine in the past month.
Fifty-one per cent said they buy magazines for news, politics and public affairs; 47 per cent to keep up with trends; 38 per cent for homemaking information and 27 per cent to keep up with news of celebrities.
The way magazines are displayed affects their sale, according to the survey. Nearly one-third of shoppers say they are more likely to buy magazines displayed at the check out, while 29 per cent said more prominent displays would encourage them to browse more often and possibly buy.
Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said what they’ve read in magazines has influenced their decision to buy certain products, while 32 per cent said they’ve bought a magazine to learn more about something they’ve seen online.
Release of the survey coincides with a campaign by publishers, distributors and wholesalers to strengthen retail support for the $600 million a year newsstand magazine industry.
“Magazines represent an important and profitable category for retailers,” Mr. Argyle said. “The survey shows that despite a slower economy and web-based reading, retailers can grow their sales by better displays and more frequent promotions.”
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