Which print magazines will survive? Millennials may provide a clue

The American print magazine audience is graying.

At least, that’s the conventional wisdom.  Only people old enough to remember the Cold War or the first lunar landing still bother with print magazines, right?

Not so fast.

A new analysis of historical data from consumer market research firm GfK MRI shows that people aged 18-24 actually read more print magazines now than they did 10 or 20 years ago.  It just depends on what kind.

Fashion and beauty titles have held up well with millennials, and the celebrity category doubled among people of that age group.  INSTYLE*, a hybrid of fashion and celebrity, has fared especially well.  Magazines targeting foodies are a hit with young adults, as are travel and luxury lifestyle glossies.  Twenty-something men gravitate to GQ* and MAXIM*, and are responsible for much of the growth in fitness titles like MEN’S HEALTH*.

In contrast, magazines with broad appeal, like READER’S DIGEST* and TV GUIDE*, have lost out with young adults.  So have women’s service titles such as LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL*, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING* and REDBOOK*, which traditionally assumed women were taking care of a home and raising children.  Newsweeklies aren’t popular with this demographic either, and are increasingly considered quaint relics in our 24/7 digital/news cycle.

Shelter publications, which saw a surge of younger readers early in the last decade, lost many of them due to the housing crisis and recession.  Reading about decorating your first home or apartment is depressing, and pointless, if you’re an adult who is living with your parents out of economic necessity.

Mining through the data, the results say as much about our evolving lifestyles as they do about demographics.  They may also be a sign of which brands will survive and which ones face extinction.

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