4 magazine categories on the rise (and what it means)

Clinton Willis - Executive General Manager, Sales, Ovato

With Australians spending more time closer to home over the last 18 months, people had time on their hands and a need to stay entertained.

And according to recently released Roy Morgan research, that led to a big jump in readership for many magazines, with titles that directly appealed to what people could do while living under travel restrictions showing particularly impressive results.

Here are the categories that are growing, and the insights you can apply to your own business and customers.

Home and Gardening

With less travel and more time at home, home improvement became a big part of many people’s weekends and free time. The free Bunnings Magazine available at Bunnings stores and online was there for people who found themselves wanting to spend some of their available time partaking in some DIY.

Each issue contains home renovation and gardening advice, with articles covering everything from flooring to DIY tips, decorating and gardening inspiration and much more that directly appealed to people with the time and money to spruce up their homes.
Bunnings Magazine increased its readership by a staggering 40.3 per cent in 2020 to 1,629,000 readers. As a category, home and gardens magazines grew their audience by 17.8 per cent, up to 3,877,000 Australians – the biggest increase of any leading magazine category.

Bunnings’ success proves the value of understanding changing audience behaviours, even those occurring at high speeds, and being quick to provide highly relevant content that offers education and inspiration when it’s needed most.

Despite the country going in and out of lockdowns, and state borders opening and closing sporadically, two motoring magazines saw big jumps in readership last year.

Open Road in NSW and Road Ahead in Queensland both registered large boosts to their readership – 25.4 per cent and 26.5 per cent respectively.

With less overseas travel on the cards, staying within the state and visiting more local attractions became the default way to holiday.

Because of this, the magazines published by the NRMA and RACQ provided many a would-be traveller with travel ideas and driving related articles that satiated wanderlust and provided food for thought for post-COVID trips.

Aspirational and inspiration content is important. Ensuring you’re there for customers at all times means that when the time for action arrives, like a trip or a purchase, your brand is front of mind.   

Magazines at the checkout

With the supermarket one of the few places that was open throughout the entire year, it’s not surprising to see that magazines traditionally found at or near the counter have performed extremely well.

Australian Women’s Weekly was the star performer in the category. It’s one of the most widely read magazines in Australia, with 1.4 million Australians reading it, an increase of 232,000 or 18.7 per cent on last year.

And other magazines found at the supermarket also performed well. Take 5 Bumper Monthly added 7.4 per cent readership to reach 569,000, while That’s Life Mega Monthly added an astounding 36.0 per cent year on year.

With an idle moment at the checkout and at the home, it’s easy for potential readers to flick through a magazine and throw it in the trolley for reading later at home. It shows again that if there’s something compelling in your offering, and people can find it where it’s most likely to grab them, then you can find great success.

Food and entertainment

More time at home meant more time cooking for ourselves. Even people who could burn cereal were probably starting to get a bit sick of Uber Eats arriving cold hours after they ordered it.

In much the same way that lifestyle magazines registered significant leaps in readership during a period of stay-at-home orders and limited travel, food and entertainment magazines available at one of the few locations that stayed open no matter the restrictions enjoyed large boosts to their reading numbers.

For example, Coles Magazine increased by over half a million readers in 2020-2021 (526,000, up 11.6 per cent), while the rival Woolworth’s Fresh Ideas went up by even more – an astounding 603,000 (or an increase of 15.1 per cent).

Filled with recipes from expert chefs, meal suggestions and other food and entertaining tips and tricks, the content resonated well with customers, while the location ensured that a high proportion of shoppers in the supermarket were exposed to the product. The result? Bumper readership numbers encouraged by understanding the public’s changed circumstances and adapting content that focused on what they wanted.


With readership increasing in four out of the five leading magazine categories, there’s certainly reason to be optimistic about the health of magazines, despite the closure of over 20 titles in 2020.

Less titles on the shelf gives brands more access to the left-over space. It also means that there’s less competition for content in the newsagent or supermarket, and less clutter for potential readers to sort through before they find you.

And it’s clear that magazines that offer content that appeals to readers across a range of categories and reach readers eager to engage.

As lockdowns begin to lift in Australia as vaccination rates reach the required levels, magazines have the ability to act as influencers, while also offering advertisers a large pool of potential customers to reach.