While we wouldn’t go so far as to say “Thanks, COVID,” the global pandemic may have positively impacted the magazine industry. What else can we credit with the latest predictions showing a magazine industry growth rate of nearly $3.5 billion by 2025? Lockdown life has increased the desire for magazines in direct correlation with our weariness at consuming digital content. Let’s look at what may be behind this industry growth and what’s next in the world of magazine publishing.
Drivers of industry growth
Publishers have recently reported increased demand in the magazine sector. Is this a COVID-related hiccup or real money in the bank for magazine publishers? Leading analysts say it’s the latter. But what’s fueling this industry growth, when just a few years ago, pundits predicted that digital channels would be the death of traditional printing? A leading market analysis says some of the drivers of industry growth will include:
- Growing penetration of smartphones and tablets
- Availability of a wide range of magazines
- High public impact of printed magazines
Analysts give a nod to multichannel publication and personalization as ways to improve consumer experience and broaden subscription base. Still, What’s New in Publishing (WNIP) says this isn’t a long-term reality and the increase in magazine readership is due to a “COVID bump.”
Did COVID-19 contribute to this trend?
Despite the conflicting viewpoints, we know one thing for certain: Magazine subscriptions increased during the pandemic. Is this a COVID-related quirk or a trend that will last? We don’t know for sure, but we can make some solid predictions based on the evidence.
The spike that occurred during the first weeks of lockdown has diminished only slightly as we’ve reopened. Does this mean print magazines are finding a new home in the long-term media channel mix? Are digital channels like the new toy at Christmas, eventually discarded for a bright and shiny new magazine? We wouldn’t go that far, but it is safe to predict that there will be room for both mediums in the future, especially as the digital marketplace becomes more chaotic.
Magazines have considerable staying power for storytelling. They can last for years, and consumers spend much more time perusing them than they do on digital media. A print magazine can withstand a power or internet outage, and we all know how much fun it is to receive something in the mail these days. These trends support the argument that magazine sales are a long-term trend publishers can leverage.
What’s next in magazine publishing?
The media and entertainment industry is experiencing a major transformation. Media companies that want to stay relevant, or even take the lead, must be willing to experiment. Before the pandemic, print seemed destined to decline in favor of digital. But COVID-19 may have been the catalyst for a resurgence in the popularity of print.
Consumers seem willing to pay more for better quality publications offered less frequently. Print is also trusted more than the “fake news” that is increasingly difficult to spot in a digital landscape. Edelman’s Trust Barometer says that 60% of the population trusts print magazines more than digital content. But magazine publishers must increase their sustainability efforts or run the risk of losing subscriptions as quickly as they surged.
Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation, or visit our contact page to learn how Sheridan professionals can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.