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‘Green’ Issues of Magazines Underperforming

time-coverCompanies deciding where to spend their advertising budget might reconsider advertising in the newest green-themed issue of major consumer magazines.

New research from Mediamark Research & Intelligence suggests that when it comes to how consumers read magazines, issues dedicated to the environment might put off readers, reports MediaPost.

Magazines that took a general tack on environmental topics fared the worst, according to the research, which came from an issue-specific readership study.

The data may show that readers have been over-saturated by negative information about the environment, MediaPost reports.

From 2006-2008, MRI tracked readership of magazines such as Wired, The Economist, Popular Science, Car and Driver, Automobile, Metropolitan Home, Newsweek, Time, Vanity Fair, Bridal Guide, Modern Bride, Elle, BusinessWeek, Consumer Reports, Forbes and Scientific American.

According to MediaPost, here are some of the results:

  • When looking at nine major consumer magazine issues with green themes or cover stories in 2006, MRI’s data showed that 67 percent performed “worse than average” in six-month readership.
  • Looking at issues with green themes or cover stories in 2007, half of 24 issues performed worse than average
  • The figures for 2008 show that 52 percent of issues with green themes or cover stories did worse than average.

While negative as a whole, the above figures suggest a gradual, year-to-year improvement in readership of green-themed magazines.

The research shows that magazines that cover green issues “in connection with a core service message” may fare better.

For instance, issues with themes of “green” weddings, including Bridal Guide and Modern Guide, saw a boost in readership of 24 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

Along the same lines, with a special issue called “Renovation Goes Green and Gorgeous,” the audience grew 15 percent for Metropolitan Home.

The readership data stands in contrast to MRI’s own research about American’s collective perception on the environment. In a 2007 survey (PDF), “Green is Mainstream,” MRI found that 63.5 percent of Americans agreed preserving the environment is “very important,” while 22 percent rated it as of “average importance.” Just 12 percent said it was “not important.”

Other research shows that the amount of advertising making “green” claims is on the rise.

Another set of data shows that 42 percent of Americans think global warming is “exaggerated.”

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4 thoughts on “‘Green’ Issues of Magazines Underperforming

  1. I think the problem may be with the overuse of the term “green.”I think consumers are so over “greened” (how’s that for a new word overgreened?)that they don’t see any value in the content of the green issues. Consumers and business leaders are more focused on economic issues then environmental issues. Perhaps if messaging were more directed towards the economic benefits of sustainable living and sustainable development readers might be more engaged.

  2. Green magazines generally come under one of two categories: 1) Campaign magazines, which tend to concentrate on catastrophic predictions on climate change and political campaigns, and 2) Consumer magazines, which tend to preach to or present ‘green’ options to the reader in a simplistic, black and white style. The truth about going green is often less clear-cut and more interesting than these magazines would have us believe, and as a journalist I’ve found the ‘green’ media to be seriously lacking, with a few noteable exceptions. So I launched my own green magazine – GreenerLiving – which doesn’t preach, is not judgemental and tries to talk about greener options for a mainstream audience, not just those who are already signed-up members of the green movement. It’s time we stopped talking at consumers. Instead, it’s time to talk with consumers, and work through the often complex and contradictory issues. Then we might engage readers more effectively.
    Peter Batt, Publisher of GreenerLiving magazine (www.greenerliving.tv), Broadstairs, UK

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