The COVID-19 pandemic has eroded business confidence across a range of sectors, globally. Australia’s business confidence hit its lowest point mid-May, two times below the 1990s recession level. Niche magazine publishers have an important role to play in rebuilding the business confidence within the sectors that they serve. Here’s how one publisher is doing it.
With access to engaged and highly targeted audiences, niche magazine publishers are in a unique position to provide their advertisers with key insights on the attitudes and spending habits of their readership, helping to rebuild business confidence in their advertising base and the sectors that they serve.
Special interest publisher Universal Media Co (Umco) produces over 50 titles, 11 of which are in the home renovation sector. It also publishes the CompleteHome.com.au digital network, and the B2B SpecifierSource.com.au digital network.
The publisher moved quickly to provide its advertisers with reassurance about the stability of the home market during the coronavirus pandemic by surveying its audience.
Assessing the home market
To help advertisers of its home brands make informed business decisions in a changing economic landscape, Umco conducted a survey of 1,321 people with home projects.
The survey was run via social and digital media in March and April 2020 – when the impact of coronavirus on Australia was largely uncertain. No incentive to complete the survey was provided.
The poll followed face-to-face discussions that occurred at the Sydney Home Show in March 2020. Umco combined the results of the survey with these face-to-face interviews.
Providing clear insights to advertisers
From the survey data, Umco was able to provide its advertisers with five clear insights based around consumer budget, changing consumer demographics, and new budget drivers – all key factors in understanding the changing market dynamics and building business confidence.
1. Those with money still want to spend it.
“People who aren’t suddenly dealing with unemployment or underemployment are proceeding with their plans regardless.”
2. Home spenders in 2020 look much like home spenders in 2019.
“Established, suburban, family-orientated — not the fantasy young couple but certainly spending, and certainly a worthwhile market. The only market worth developing, in fact.”
3. Consumers have more time on their hands.
“The main driver of the new renovation boom. Despite the difficulty of managing the necessary protections, an increasingly home-based workforce is ‘getting around’ to those long-overdue jobs.”
4. There’s an increase in preparing for multi-gen living.
“With an eye on what’s to come, these Gen X and Boomer renovators are preparing space for returning children, for parents to move into, or for whatever else arises in this strange new world.”
5. Budgets are modest, locations are suburban.
“The spenders are in suburban locations and, somewhat surprisingly, around regional centres.”
Umco was also able to provide a breakdown of potential consumer spend by home renovation area and brand.
Using data to create a narrative that builds business confidence
Umco found that those who had long-term plans to renovate their homes were least likely to proceed cautiously, and those whose plans were more short-term were more likely to stall them for another day.
“It is clear that while some customers had become cautious with the bad headlines, others were full steam ahead and apparently oblivious to the serious challenges faced by other householders in the market. The trick for businesses is to find the latter,” the publisher said.
“The home that someone has been planning for a year, and probably won’t be built for another year yet, still has to happen.”Universal Media Co. April 2020 Home Project Poll, building business confidence for advertisers.
“There is also evidence to suggest that plans are being made, and demand increasing, for a future time when household disruption can be better managed. Any business that can lock in an order now, even though construction may not start until later, will be able to build a more solid pipeline for the emergence period,” Umco said.
Interestingly, the publisher commissioned research firm McNair Ingenuity to do a similar poll in 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis, and got a similar result — 77 per cent of respondents said that they would continue with their projects regardless of the headlines.
Founded in 1985, is one of Australia’s largest magazine publishers, producing over 50 B2C titles in addition to B2B magazine brands (via its Westwick Farrow Media publishing arm).
What are some of the ways that your magazine is building business confidence?