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Resurgence of the written word: do people still care about longform content?

By Amrita Rao | Senior SEO Executive



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June 12, 2023 | 9 min read

Savanta’s latest study of over 45,000 consumers reveals a glimmer of hope for the print industry, with an increase in 'brand love' for magazines, as examined by Savanta’s own Amrita Rao.

Black and white image of magazine stand

Can we expect to see a resurgence of the written word? / Toa Heftiba

This year, consumers have welcomed four new magazine brands into Savanta’s Top 100 Most Loved Media Brands League Table: 82nd Marie Claire (+20 spots), 84th Vanity Fair (+19 spots), 87th Radio Times (+14 spots), and 93rd Auto Express (+16 spots).

These rises in love aren’t restricted to the newcomers though; Men’s Health has climbed to 57th place (+36 from last year). Meanwhile, The Week is sitting at 55th (up 22 places).

Change of heart

Last year, Savanta’s BrandVue report marked concern for the ‘absence of the written word’. With a new wave of bloggers and influencers altering the landscape of media consumption, magazines and other print and publishing brands saw dwindling sales.

However, this year, there is a spark of hope. Despite a clear decrease in popularity, it seems love for magazines has not all been lost. In terms of consumption habits, Savanta’s research reveals 11% of consumers have read more than usual in the past month, and 13% intend to read more in the coming months.

A digital affair

Digital magazines are predicted to soon surpass print, with print media forecast to amount to only 13.63m by 2027, while the digital market is expected to reach more than 34m users by the same year.

Vanity Fair, for example, has seen a 25% point increase in quality of experience over the last 12 months. Unlike print, digital magazines are versatile, easy to access and interactive, offering an evolved reading experience to meet the needs of fast-paced, modern life.

Unsurprisingly, another key factor is cost. The cost-of-living crisis has almost everybody re-evaluating their spending habits, carefully examining where they can cut back. One brand that needn’t worry about this is BBC Good Food, the top performer when looking at ‘value for money’, with more than six in 10 consumers (62%) associating the brand with this trait.

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To put things into perspective, the brand sells its digital versions for nearly half the price of print copies (digital: £44.99pa vs print: £83.88pa).

Some readers do just prefer the tangible experience of reading print; turning a page, the unmistakable inky scent, hot off the press. For some, reading print is a valuable, sensory experience, and one of the very few offline experiences left in this tech-driven world.

But we cannot overlook the resurgence of magazine love initiated by digitization. Perhaps further innovation such as immersive worlds revolving around fashion and style could win over our print lovers.

Print’s next chapter

Despite having a place in the hearts of many, the future of print is uncertain. The true challenge will lie in convincing a generation raised on pixels and smartphones that print is not only something to cherish but something worth preserving.

The resurgence we're seeing is admirable; breaking through the noise of technology is no easy feat. But the print industry safeguards a unique and tactile reading experience, one that is personal, immersive, and deeply human – something that online magazines will struggle to compete with.

After all, there is no digital substitute for cracking the spine of a book, or the nostalgic feel of a magazine’s glossy pages. Perhaps print is somewhat insulated thanks to this USP and is therefore not in any danger of becoming a relic of reminiscence just yet. That said, you never really know what the next chapter holds.

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