With an increasing shift towards online readership, printed consumer magazines are under growing pressure to attract and retain readers. New VAT regulations give publishers more options to implement a future-proof strategy.
More than ever before, Dutch people use online media to read consumer magazines. This trend is fuelled by changing demographics, digital innovation and the upswing of influencers, floggers and bloggers. Although readership is shifting to online media consumption, its growth does not match the decline in print revenue.
Nevertheless, customer bases of magazines remain loyal. The reach of print magazines is highest for people in the age group 50+, and lowest for people in the age group 13-24. To increase this reach, magazines improve customer journey mapping of reader groups through data analysis. Publishers are increasingly moving towards data-driven advertising and sales models. Online revenue models shift to revenue models based on personalisation and data.
In the 2020 Dutch tax plan, a VAT reduction for e-publications was introduced, lowering the rate from 21 to 9%. After the 2019 increase VAT increase for print publications from 6 to 9%, this new measure equalises the rates for both types of publications and as such was welcomed by stakeholders in the market.
Blendle, an online platform that aggregates articles from a broad selection of newspapers and consumer magazines, changed its business model from a pay-per-article model to a monthly payment system. This step is part of a broader trend in which companies are changing to subscription models.
In the current market, publishers are focusing on cost savings and selected divestments, and in parallel are making strategic acquisitions to strengthen and broaden their product portfolio. An example of this dynamic is provided by Sanoma Media Netherlands, which sold their majority interest of Mood for Magazines, the publisher of LINDA., to Talpa Network and is invested in Panel Inzicht. Panel Inzicht uses insights from consumer panels that allow brands to further connect with customers.
Publishers are fully aware of the competitive landscape in the Netherlands. Sanoma and LINDA. studied the impact that influencers have on consumer behaviour compared to consumer magazines. The results imply that magazines have a stronger effect on consumer behaviour due to the connection readers have with the magazine. Nevertheless, advertisers are expected to use celebrities and vloggers as influencers more often.
Source: PwC. Note: Because we rounded off amounts and percentages throughout this Outlook, tables may not sum to 100%.
We expect new VAT legislation for e-publications to induce slightly stronger growth in the digital circulation of consumer magazines. This trend is boosted by digitalisation and demographics. The lower VAT rate will help improve profitability of digital publishing, thereby compensating publishers for print declines.
Due to increased competition and a decrease in print circulation magazines, the supply of different magazines is expected to shrink over the years ahead. Strong multiplatform strategies like NLProfiel are expected to result in valuable market insights that can induce strategic partnerships and innovative growth strategies necessary for survival in the long run.
We expect many smaller titles to change ownership in the coming years. Mid-size publishers will continue applying a buy-and-build strategy to create a low-cost platform which caters for smaller titles in a digital era. Platforms such as Tijdschrift.nl may be an important asset that enables small titles to extend their life cycle and offer small readerships spot-on content.
Furthermore, we expect many partnerships to be announced. Even though not all partnerships will prove to be sustainable, we see a growing level of innovation and creativity when it comes to combining the strength of magazines with new technologies and other industries.
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