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What really gets a magazine noticed on the shelf?

In today’s fast-paced, time-poor world, it’s heartening to know that a magazine’s coverlines trump the cover image when it comes to purchasing choice. Research recently conducted by Caxton Magazines shows that more than half of magazine buyers cite coverlines as their top criteria in choosing which magazine to buy, followed by cover image, then price and free samples.The research was done through Caxton Magazines’ audience panel, PULSE, powered by the Opinion Solutions mobile app technology, which allows Caxton Magazines to be at the forefront of exploratory research approaches and tools in order to get closer to their readers’ thoughts and views.

The app, through real-time data, is used to better understand aspects and the role that magazines play in readers’ lives. The predominantly female reader panel of about 2 000 members are primarily in the 25–49 age group. Caxton Magazines has used the PULSE tool to determine what the important factors are in getting noticed on shelf and what readers look for – with some surprising results!

The objectives of the research were to determine the overall ‘interest value’ of the magazine brands; test the attractiveness of the cover based on identified key components; discover motivations for reading a specific magazine and examine both location and time spent reading.

The study was designed and overseen by Professor Therese Roux, HOD of the Marketing faculty at Tshwane University of Technology, in partnership with Opinion Solutions

“It was clear that consumers don’t think they judge a magazine purely by its cover, but rather consider a range of factors before making a purchase,” says Caxton Magazines’ General Manager Anton Botes. “The resulting information has affirmed that our editorial content is very much in line with what our readers enjoy and expect from us.

“We did however make a few tweaks around positioning of key cover lines.”

The highlights of the research indicated that 44% to 69% of readers rated editorial features as the main reason they buy magazines. Between 11% and 22% of respondents said that the cover was most important to them while 10-19% said price was the overriding factor. Another 12-15% said that free samples and products would sway them to buy.

“While this shows that the cover page – in the minds of readers – contributes less than other variables across all titles, it’s by no means any less important because the cover is, of course, the first visual contact to cue the brand for the consumer,” adds Botes. “Using this knowledge ensures that we’re always refining our offering to keep pace with changing reader needs.

“It’s heartening to see that Caxton Magazines’ main coverlines and other sub headings featured on the cover are rated highly amongst our readers. In fact, across all categories explored, our magazines are considered easily recognisable on shelf and highly appealing.”

There are many tools in the market that both media agencies and brand teams use to determine reach, frequencies and impact, however, this qualitative, real-time data from the panel goes beyond the metrics and can assist with getting to the nub of consumers’ reasoning at the time.

“Our PULSE reader panel allows us to communicate directly with a large sample quickly, efficiently and in real time to determine how they feel about certain aspects of their lives and our magazines.”

Botes concludes, “Whether it’s a larger project like our cover research or a quick and immediate call to action, like ‘take a picture of the jewellery that you are wearing right now’, or ‘how does Valentine’s Day make you feel?’ it’s the ideal research platform, and it’s also available to our advertising partners to make use of.”

Feel free to make contact with Caxton Magazines for further insights or discussions regarding the use of the application as a qualitative research tool that brands and advertisers can use to gain real-time data into the lives and headspace of consumers.

Caxton Magazines DNA

Storytelling is our business. Content is our currency. Caxton Magazines is a subsidiary of Caxton CTP Printers & Publishers and houses 12 brands in print and digital formats, primarily aimed at the women’s lifestyle segment across life stages, lifestyles and income groups. These brands are: Vrouekeur; Woman & Home; Bona; Living & Loving; People; Food & Home Entertaining; Your Family; Garden & Home; Farmer’s Weekly; Essentials; Rooi Rose and SA Country Life. Visit


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