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Customer magazines cash-in on popularity of digital technology

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According to Customer Magazines, a new Market Assessment published by marketing intelligence provider Key Note, the contract publishing industry is likely to continue to do well, following slow growth of just 0.4% in 2009. The main drivers of the industry are likely to be the continued focus on editorial and interesting content, as well as the provision of multi-channel digital content.


The popularity of digital gadgets in recent years, such as the iPad, smartphones and Android devices, has resulted in many customer publishing agencies broadening the scope of services that they offer to include e-zines and 'apps' in order to access a wider audience, while also making branded content more interactive and engaging for consumers. For example, according to figures published by Gartner, sales of smartphones increased by 85% year-on-year in Q1 2011, while Apple sold 16.9 million iPhone units to end users worldwide in the same year. This has resulted in a number of contract publishers launching branded content and customer magazines through these types of channels. In August 2011, online clothing retailer introduced a new iPad app to coincide with the re-launch of its customer magazine. The new app features 360° views of clothing items, as well as exclusive video content. Other brands that now offer customer magazines via the iPhone, iPad or smartphones include Superdrug, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Lexus, bmibaby, Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank and Volvo, among others.


Furthermore, the announcement by Apple in June 2011 regarding its new newsstand app, which will allow users to keep their digital newspapers and magazines in one place, is likely to continue to drive this particular side of the customer magazine market even further in the future.


Another particularly important aspect of the market is the rising interest in the production of engaging content, rather than simply marketing material. Previously, many customer magazines have only been interested in using such publications as a marketing tool. While this is still the main aim of such magazines, many publishers have realised that the provision of engaging and interesting content in such magazines means that they appeal to consumers much more, and readers are more likely to continue to buy a magazine regularly if it appeals to them on a more personal basis. The findings of an exclusive survey commissioned by Key Note and undertaken by NEMS Market Research in September 2011 also back up this new focus on content within such magazines, with 39.4% of respondents agreeing that customer magazines are generally as well-produced and interesting as other magazines. Furthermore, 48.5% of adults surveyed revealed that they usually find at least one or two features or articles in such magazines that are interesting. The effectiveness of such magazines as a marketing tool is also apparent, with around a third of respondents revealing that customer publications had urged them purchase items seen in the magazine or use coupons and special offers provided by the publication.


With this in mind, alongside the possibilities that digital technology is now opening up to the market, Key Note has forecast growth of 22.1% between 2012 and 2016, with the total revenue of UK publishers of customer magazines expected to reach £630m in 2016.



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Press enquiries: Jack Sykes at Key Note at or 0845 504 0452. Press/review copies of the report are available on request.