MRI: Women’s Health Readership Age Old Mystery

Since launching three years ago as a spinoff of Rodale’s Men’s Health, Women’s Health has enchanted media buyers with its irreverent, youthful tone.
Mediamark Research & Intelligence’s newly released spring magazine report, which measures Women’s Health for the first time, reveals the median age of its female readers to be 45.7. That’s older than four other major titles in the women’s health/fitness set: Fitness (35.2), Shape (36.3), Self (38) and Weight Watchers (44.1).
Rodale’s Prevention’s readers are still the oldest in the set, with a median female reader age of 53.6, up from 51.6 in the spring 2008 MRI. Second oldest is Time Inc.’s Health, whose median female reader age was 48.6.
In terms of median annual household income—like age, another metric closely watched by buyers—Women’s Health stood at $54,638 among its female readers, also below that of Fitness, Shape, Self and Weight Watchers.
Shape’s female readers are the richest, with a median household income of $86,686, with Self a close second at $86,240.
Women’s Health has been going through something of a makeover in the past year, introducing more celebrity, fashion and beauty editorial content. In December the title hired Michele Promaulayko, an ex-Cosmopolitan editor and sex book author, as its new editor in chief, replacing Tina Johnson.
Most titles in the field saw their median reader income rise with median reader age, which isn’t surprising, given household income tends to rise with age up to around age 54. An exception was Fitness, whose median female age declined to 35.2 from 36.1 even as household income rose 14.8 percent.

The biggest gainers in household income were Self, up 15.4 percent, followed by Fitness.
Of the 208 reported magazines in the report, total average-issue audience declined 2.7 percent (including Sunday newspaper-carried supplements), with 141 titles decreasing and 67 showing gains. Long-term, magazine audience has risen over the past eight years, though, per MRI.
The decline among women readership (3.4 percent) was more pronounced than that among male readers (1.7 percent). Women account for 57 percent of magazine reading, so declines could be more prominent with that gender.