Insight into the unique value of magazine media

Marketing & Innovation

Magazine media is part of a rapidly changing media landscape: the online world looked to have the future, but the high expectations have been adjusted a little. A reappraisal of traditional media, including magazines, is taking place. In order to improve the image of magazine media, we have given the branch organisation Magazine Media Association (MMA) insight into the unique value of magazine media in the media landscape, by means of a category study.

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The readership of magazine media is spread over various platforms, both online and offline. Print has the largest share, but digital and social channels are also an important component of magazine brands. Curious about the power and unique value of magazine media, and for a better understanding of the position of magazine media in this turbulent media landscape, MMA turned to Blauw Research for extensive research into their target groups.

Insight into purchase, use and attitude

In order to demonstrate the strength and unique value of magazine media, we approached this issue from the triptych of purchase, use and attitude, with a strong focus on use and attitude:

  • the consumption of magazine content (use)
  • the role and perception of magazine media, both print and online (attitude)
  • the appreciation of magazine media in relation to other media (attitude)

We portrayed a complete picture of the media category and gained insight into the 4 motivators that stimulate the buy button (the unique value) in our brain.

  • Needs
  • Thresholds
  • Routine
  • Herd behaviour

MMA’s issue called for a phased, integrated approach, ranging from identifying in broad terms to generating hard figures, in order to put the unique value of the magazine into perspective.

A phased research process: qualitative and quantitative research

MMA and Blauw started off the investigation with a kick-off game, Let’s Play®. This is an interactive board game that allowed us to quickly and enjoyably identify subjects and insights, share knowledge and formulate hypotheses.

This flying start enabled us, after the kick-off game, to set up the research with a clear goal in mind, namely to investigate the attitude towards and the use of magazine media.

Comprehensively exploring the category in our Life & Style Research Community

Community research provides the opportunity for a comprehensive orientation and to hear from many quarters how people behave and operate in a certain category. Members can be followed in their natural situation, so that we get close to real behaviour.

Our Life & Style Research Community was therefore perfect for an initial broad exploration of the media category. 135 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65, who consume magazine media at least once a month, participated for two weeks in various activities and assignments on the community platform.

Our community offers a wide range of research methods for retrieving information

Depending on the type of information required, one or more methods are used. Creativity not only makes research more enjoyable, it also improves the quality - provided it is used as a means and not as an end in itself. We utilised creative assignments, such as a photo and video diary, to expose the actual behaviour.

In the diary assignment, we asked community members to keep track of all their contact moments with magazine brands for two weeks, and to record them by means of a photo and/or video.

  • what did people see, hear or read, via which device/channel, where and when was this?
  • what triggered people to read?
  • what name do people give their magazine moment?

Via the forum and the stepboard module, we looked in more depth at specific topics that triggered our interest. For example:

  • the changing role of magazine content
  • the value of print media versus online magazine content
  • the framework in which magazine media is placed (what are the alternatives)

Taken as a whole, the assignments taught MMA that print magazines are the ultimate way to provide a ‘me moment’. Although the need and setting may vary at these moments (relaxing, looking for inspiration, gaining knowledge...), a magazine always fits the bill.

Quantitative validation

For a better understanding and a representative picture of the extent of the use of and attitude towards magazine media, we have validated the results of the community research in a quantitative study under more than 1000 Dutch people.

A print magazine really is me time

The results confirm that the power of print magazines is unchanged and that they do have a future. 88% think magazines are indispensable:

The strength of print magazines lies mainly in the drawbacks of online/digital channels. Magazine readers praise the reading experience of a print magazine compared to online/digital channels. This positive reading experience is driven by a combination of physical (smell, feeling, leafing through, easy to lay aside) and emotional (recognition, luxury, me time) stimuli and the absence of ‘noise’ (loud advertisements, online notifications).
The unique value of print magazines therefore lies not so much in what need they meet, but in how they meet that need. With online/digital channels, distraction is always lurking and there is a great lack of focus.

BIG MAG: a Taste of Magazines

On 13 June 2019, Blauw Research and MMA together presented the results of the research to advertisers, media planners and strategists at the BIG MAG event.

The most important take-outs from the research were bundled in a tasty BIG MAG menu, so that the attendees could once again enjoy the presentation and great results at home afterwards.


Would you also like to understand what the triptych of purchase, use and attitude looks like for your product and how you can encourage use of the buy button?