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More Australians are reading magazines – they just don’t need to own a copy

Magazine Readership results for the 12 months to March 2017.

Roy Morgan today releases the latest Australian Magazine Readership results for the 12 months to March 2017, showing an overall increase in magazine readership despite recent downward trends in circulation.

Australians are spending more on experiences and less on physical things, and this includes magazines. Many industries—from retail to automotive to media—are witnessing a move away from traditional forms of ‘ownership’.

For magazines, the decline in circulation declines reflects the decrease in physical ownership of issues. Readership, however, has not followed the same downward trend. Instead, magazine readership overall—as well as engagement with a number of categories—has been comparatively stable, demonstrating that although Australians are showing less of a need to own magazines, they remain highly engaged with magazine content.  

12.6 million Australians aged 14+ (63.4 percent) read print magazines, the latest data for the 12 months to March 2017 shows—up 2.4 percent compared with the year before. 

Looking at the longer term trends across categories, Food and Entertainment titles together now reach 5,848,000 Australians, more than twice the number reading magazines in this category in the 12 months to March 2013. Total print readership also increased for the categories of General Interest (up 11 percent to 4,465,000) and Sports (up two percent to 371,000).

Three other categories are holding steady, each with less than six percent fewer readers compared with four years ago: Home and Garden (now reaching 3,016,000 readers overall), Women’s Fashion (1,190,000), and Business, Financial and Airline (1,788,000).

Two categories worth highlighting are Food & Entertainment and Women’s Fashion. In large part thanks to the continuing growth for Coles Magazine (up 17.6 percent year-on-year to 3,783,000) and Woolworth’s Fresh (up 18.2 percent to 3,400,000), almost 5.9 million Australians are reading magazines dedicated to Food & Entertainment. However, also driving total category growth are Magazine (up 12.6 percent to 597,000), Recipes+ (up 7.9 percent to 424,000), and Delicious (up 1.1 percent to 356,000).  

Total readership of Women’s Fashion magazines in print had been on a downward trend since 2013, falling from 1,270,000 to 1,082,000 in the 12 months to March 2016. Since then, however, the category has performed a distinct turnaround, rising 10 percent now back up close to 1.2 million.

But even more exceptional than the renewed appetite for the category’s glossy printed pages overall is that every title (excluding the niche wedding magazines) contributed to the growth. That’s right—they all gained readers over the past year: Harper’s Bazaar (up 21.8 percent to 134,000), Elle (up 18.2 percent to 156,000), Marie Claire (up 17.1 percent to 301,000), Frankie (up 14.4 percent to 365,000), InStyle (up 10.9 percent to 143,000) and Vogue Australia (up 7.3 percent to 338,000).   

Total Print Readership Trend for Food & Entertainment and Women’s Fashion Magazine Categories

View the full Magazine Readership Results

Cross-Platform Audiences

The print gains amongst the fashion titles are also reflected online for some (Elle and Harper’s Bazaar) but not others (Marie Claire and Vogue). New entrant in our cross-platform measure, Frankie sees its total audience reach 399,000 Australians, up 9.3 percent from its print readership.

Since our last readership release, many of Bauer’s magazine brands have consolidated their online presence under category banners such as Now to Love. The results in the cross platform table below reflect this new positioning and therefore year on year comparisons are not made.

View the full Magazine Cross-Platform Readership Results

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Across a range of industries, Roy Morgan has highlighted a move away from consumers’ need for ‘ownership’. Whether it is the move away from car ownership to sharing and even driverless cars as highlighted in our recent State of the Nation on the Automotive Industry or consumers buying less ‘stuff’ though interested in more ‘experiences’ as seen in our State of the Nation on Retail, we see parallels in the media industry—for instance, consumers are happy paying to access music and video content but don’t need to ‘own’ it.

“The magazine industry faces similar disruption of ‘consumer ownership’. While there is no more visibility of magazine sales, it was clear that magazine circulation or ‘ownership’ of magazines was under pressure; but the ‘experience’ of reading magazines is still strong. Of course there are individual winners and losers in terms of readership in this March 2017 release, but the long term readership trend for most magazine categories is notably stable compared to the corresponding change in circulations. The challenge for the magazine industry, of course, is how best to monetise consumers’ desire for this engagement with publishers’ content.

“Since the cessation of magazine circulation audits, Roy Morgan’s readership currency—across both print and digital—remains the industry’s only independent measure of the appetite that Australians have for magazines’ content across all the available platforms.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%