We’ve long thought that magazine readers possess a certain extra something, a fascination with the world that reaches beyond the level-headed news, politics and stock-market fluctuations that make up the majority of the working-day broadsheets.

There’s a strong element of curiosity at work in all magazine fans, which ranges from a furtive glance at someone’s discarded copy of Heat to the full-blown ‘Do-not-approach-me-for-at-least-two-hours’ obsession with a gadget mag. It may be an urge to find out what drives the world’s business leaders or simply a gathering of ideas for a weekend party dress. Whatever the level of passion, there’s an ever-present willingness to swap time and money for in-depth information and entertainment.

Which is why a piece of research linking magazine readers with an increased likelihood with direct mail response didn’t come as a surprise. The study, conducted by TGI, looked at the level of response people have to direct mail. It came as a response to a perceived increase in value of the digital medium for marcomms and managed to dispel any myths that DM was losing its potency.

The report showed that in the past 12 months, 21.9 million adults in the UK have taken action after receiving mail. Which, of course, is great news for the DM industry. But what we were more interested in was whether readers of customer magazines were more likely to respond to DM than non-readers. What we found was a resounding ‘yes’.

With 46 per cent of recent customer magazine readers responding to an item of DM in the past 12 months compared to 30 per cent of non-readers, it showed that the readers were 53 per cent more likely to take action. Taking the study further, it showed that customer magazine readers were then 74 per cent more likely to make a purchase as a result of receiving direct mail, with 33 per cent buying the product as opposed to just 19 per cent of non-readers.

The study conclusively shows what we’ve known for years: that using a customer magazine as part of an integrated strategy with other mediums such as direct mail will reap rewards and give a massive leap in response. The reasons for this impressive rise could be many: heightened brand awareness, an increase in brand trust, a better understanding of the brand and the product. But while these factors certainly play their part, we feel it’s a little more to do with the psychology of the customer magazine reader.

If you read a customer magazine, you quickly understand the trade-off. In return for your time and attention, you receive high-quality content. Given that most customer magazines are sent to existing customers of the brand, that content is almost always relevant to the reader, increasing the level of engagement and the sense of belonging to a community. And with that community comes interactivity, a two-way conversation that can occur on a number of other platforms: email, social media and, of course, direct mail.

So it’s no great shock that the brand-savvy customer magazine reader is more likely to respond to direct mail. In fact, the only thing that’s shocking is why more brands don’t pounce on this opportunity and structure their campaigns around it.

Sam Upton