Direct marketing
A Reader's Digest case study

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Page 4: Readership profile

An important part of the process of marketing is to undertake market research in order to build a profile of groups of customers. To do this requires accurate information. By looking at the groups of people who subscribe to Reader’s Digest, it is possible to make the most of the direct mail process and develop a cycle of improvement by feeding this information through planning and decision-making processes.

The circulation of Reader’s Digest in Britain is today more than 1.5 million, with a readership of more than 6 million. It is enjoyed equally by men and women and read by all ages and social groups. 52% of subscribers are women and 48% men. Our median reader age is 49.7 compared with the median for all adults in the UK of 42.6. Marks & Spencer enjoy an average shopper age of 48 (Source TGI). 11.9% of subscribers are aged between 25-34 compared to 33.6% aged over 65. 26.3% of subscribers fall into the AB socio-economic grouping compared to 21.7% in Class DE. 11.4% of subscribers are in Scotland, compared to 9.9% in the North of England, 9.9% in Greater London and 21.8% in the South East. 22% of revenues from Reader’s Digest magazine come from advertising, while 78% comes directly from circulation.

Annual subscription

The Reader’s Digest is bought almost entirely through annual subscriptions which account for 96% of circulation. The magazine inspires lasting loyalty. Every year, very nearly three-quarters of subscriptions are renewed; half a million people have been subscribers for three years or more and 250,000 for more than seven years.

Reader’s Digest magazine is considered to be the ’front door’ of the company. As the most widely read magazine in the world, it is an invaluable brand name with considerable heritage, representing quality and value around the world. Recent research showed that readers have greater confidence in Reader’s Digest than in other mass circulation magazines. They see it as dealing with serious subjects and treating them in depth, while also containing much humour.

The way in which Reader’s Digest magazine is read suggests not just a way of life but also a way of looking at life. Digest readers spend some 80 minutes reading their magazine, nearly four times longer than readers devote to magazines which arrive with some Sunday broadsheets. On average, every single page is looked at twice, at least. 71% of readers give as their most important reason for liking the Digest as "It is well written and easy to read."

So given all of this evidence how did Reader’s Digest become the world’s best-selling magazine and why has it remained at the forefront of an intensely competitive and expanding industry? There are two reasons:

  1. editorial direction
  2. the use of marketing

Reader's Digest | Direct marketing