Demographic Profiles of Magazine Audiences

In various articles published on, we used correspondence analysis to exhibit the relationships between age/sex demographics and the usage of various media.  Here are the links to the respective articles on Internet, radio and television.

For the sake of completeness, we will add magazine into this exhibition.  The following correspondence analysis map is obtained from the MARS OTC/DTC Pharmaceutical Study, a mail survey of 23,705 adults in the USA conducted during the first quarter of 2001.  In this map, we show the relationship between age/sex and the readership of 100 different magazines.  As in those aforementioned articles, the correspondence analysis was able to reproduce the age/sex structure of this survey population  on the basis of their media behavior.  We see that the females found themselves on the top half of the map and the males at the bottom half; meanwhile age is observe to increase from right to left for both males and females.  

The types of magazine titles are very much according to expectations --- young women reading Mademoiselle, Jane and Marie Claire; young men reading Maxim, Rolling Stone and Men's Fitness; middle-aged women reading Martha Stewart Living, Oprah and Soap Opera Digest; middle-aged men reading Business Week, National Geographic and Business Week; older women reading Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes and Garden and Prevention; older men reading Saturday Morning Post, New Choices and Diabetes Forecast.  The magazines with universal appeal, such as People and TV Guide, find themselves near the center of this map. 

Just as physicists want to ponder the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the study of physics, we wonder why age/sex plays should play such a central role in all types of media usage.  The gender division obvious reflects the gap that continues to exist; it is by no means clear where the future lies, because this gap is due partially to the continuation of historical inequities and also partially due to different needs that may be based on biological differences (e.g. magazines that deal with motherhood).  The age division reflects the fact that the different generations have different experiences as well as different needs and interests.

The truism of 'different generations have different experiences as well as different needs and interests' can be turned on its head to refer to media researchers, for whom the explanation of media usage behavior is a central issue.  The traditional pivoting around age/sex has exhausted its gyrations over time, so along came fashionable notions such as psychographics, gratification needs and so on.  But it is doubtful that any of these alternative hypotheses can produce a series of correspondence maps as powerful and consistent as we have seen here for age/sex.

(posted by Roland Soong, 2/14/2002)

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