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Frequently Asked Questions about Customer Magazines

How big is the market?

The industry has grown exponentially by 244% over the last 10 years with the UK market now valued at a staggering £385 million. Furthermore Mintel predicts that growth will continue to increase, rising past the £531 million mark by 2009. The global market is currently estimated in excess of €5 billion. Europe and the US are the most mature markets - the European market is worth over €1 billion with more than 3200 customer titles being published every year and CPC estimates that the US produces more than 50,000 titles annually. Australia, South Africa and Asia are emerging and customer publishing is in the early stages of developments in many other countries including the Czech Republic, India and Brazil.

What is a customer magazine?

Customer magazines are magazines published by companies or organisations for their customers/members. They provide an effective and sophisticated form of marketing communication with millions of readers enjoying well-targeted editorial and responding positively to the "soft sell" that a customer magazine allows. Whilst customer magazines are recognised by consumers as marketing collateral, Henley Centre research shows, that they are treated differently because 'they give as well as take'.
Successful customer magazines, produced by professional publishing agencies, work to specific objectives which must be measured and met. These magazines balance the needs of the client against the aspirations of the reader. Achieving that balance is not easy, but, as hundreds of companies can testify, the rewards are great.

What is the target audience of customer magazines?

It is very difficult to define the target audience of a customer magazine as 'customer' means different things to different titles. For example the 'customers' for ARMY, a magazine from the British Army Recruiting Group, are teenage boys and girls interested in the Army. ARMY's objective is to develop such enthusiasm into eventual career options. However, in terms of the overall market the most important target audience is existing customers (77%), underlining the key role that customer magazines play in companies' customer retention strategies. Prospective customers (48%) are also an important audience. For customer magazines aimed at staff (14%), business partners (16%) and dealers or distributors (10%) it is significantly lower, but this is expected to become increasingly important as the medium evolves.

What are customer magazine used for?

Hundreds of companies, across all industry sectors, are discovering that a customer magazine can deliver measurable results - increasing customer loyalty, generating new business promoting brand awareness and boosting sales. For example, research has shown the sales of featured products in Homebase's Ideas see significant uplift, with readers spending 3.5 times more than non-readers. Furthermore readers were found to regard Ideas in the same way as a paid for title such as Ideal Home.

Who uses customer magazines?

Almost all sectors are utilising customer magazines as a marketing tool including b2b and consumer focused businesses, charities and organisations such as the AA. In terms of market share however, the top three industry sectors are retailing and distribution (17%), financial services (13%) and utilities and public sector (7%).

What makes a good customer magazine?

As with any magazine, editorial that is relevant to the audience is the key to success. If the editorial does not appeal to the audience the reality is the magazine will not be read - making it a waste of both time and money. The production values and quality of the design and editorial content are continuing to improve as customer magazines become an increasingly important component of the marketing mix.
Magazines are able to communicate effectively because the consumer is in control of the media consumption as opposed to the intrusive nature of media such as TV and radio. Readers expect the advertising in their magazine to be relevant to them and as a result see it as an essential part of the medium itself.

How do customer magazines reach the target audience?

Marketers are realising that a 'one message fits all' approach or 'mass marketing' is not delivering the desired results; consequently we have seen a shift towards one-to-one marketing. The evolution of customer magazines has in some ways reflected this trend. Growing numbers of customer magazines are now segmented and versonalised both geographically and according to lifestage and lifestyle - currently 14 per cent of customer magazines are segmented to reflect different readers.
The most common way for customers to receive customer magazines is to either pick them up in-store or via the post Currently, two thirds of magazines are posted and a quarter of titles are distributed in store. According to research by Millward Brown 79% of consumers prefer to receive their customer magazine via the post and 58% of consumers are more likely to read magazines and respond to offers if it is personally addressed to them.  Royal Mail can deliver to 99.9% of the population guaranteeing to brands that they can reach their customers wherever they are.