Survey: Magazine Subs Vulnerable in Hard Times

Forrester Research has bad news for publishers who hoped that in tough times, people would continue to spend on relatively affordable purchases like newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
New survey data from the researcher show that among the 72 percent of respondents who said they are magazine subscribers, 77 percent plan no change in their subscriptions in the year ahead, while 18 percent plan to cut back. (An optimistic 4 percent said they expected to increase their subscriptions.)
With heavier readers, the planned cuts go deeper. Among those subscribing to three or four titles, 22 percent plan some cancellations; and of those getting five or more subscriptions, 24 percent plan to scale back.

A spokesman for The Magazine Publishers of America countered that magazine subs haven’t softened this year, and noted that readership is still strong, having grown 3.2 percent this fall versus a year ago, as measured by Mediamark Research & Intelligence.
Newspapers and work-related magazines are less vulnerable to the downturn, according to the survey. Among newspaper subscribers (58 percent of those surveyed), 88 percent said they planned no change in their subscriptions in the coming year, while 10 percent said they planned to cut back. Two percent planned an increase.
As for people who buy magazines mostly for work, 12 percent expected to cut back their subscriptions. Eighty-four percent expected no change and 4 percent planned an increase.
The spirit of frugality cuts across many product categories; only 15 percent of respondents said they have taken no steps to cut spending.
The results come from Forrester’s North American Technographics Media, Marketing, Consumer Technology, Healthcare and Automotive Benchmark Survey of 5,000 households.