Finding Spending Consumers in the Home Market During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Find below some updates from the Universal Home Group — Home Design Magazine, Complete Home Network and Grand Designs Australia Magazine.

  1. It is clear that consumers with major project intentions are still planning them. This was established by our own recent poll (results below) but also by many significant industry players who are keeping their pipelines in play.
  2. Grand Designs Australia back on the ABC and reaching 500,000 a week. There has been an increase of searches, purchases and interest in the Grand Designs brand since Series 5 went to air on the ABC mid-March 2020. While Grand Designs Australia magazine is always a solid seller in the Universal stable, having a TV show that reaches half a million people a week reinforces the role this publication plays in the market.
  3. Building Application Distribution is conducted via post and continues. Home Design magazine goes out to early-stage building/development applications in NSW, Vic and Qld. At this stage we have not seen a drop in applications, but do expect to see one soon. If there is any market to target in a downturn, it is this one.
  4. Our Direct Channel is serviced by post and has picked up. This refers to direct sales between publisher and consumer, usually via email, social or snail mail mechanisms and eCommerce purchase — a major channel for Universal Media Co as a niche publisher. Direct sales are up 23% Year-On-Year and 16% Month-On-Month. It is clear that time at home has meant a focus on the house for many people, especially the more established, older mortgage-free Australians who tend to read Home Design and Grand Designs Australia magazines. Our most popular products recently have been single issues or research packs. We are planning a very strong Mother’s Day campaign just as in previous years.
  5. Newsstand remains open, with the big outlets registering as Essential Services, and the Home Delivery channel expanding.  Newsstand is not the be-all and end-all of magazine distribution, but it is important and holding up incredibly well in Australia. Most newsagencies are independent; the good ones are diverse businesses selling computer peripherals as well as magazines and have gone to the length of full COVID compliance and registration as essential services. We have, however, had 32 temporary closures since the COVID-19 pandemic. In the scheme of 3800 full agencies, this is a small percentage. Closures seem to be in locations that are difficult, such as near food courts. Main Street trade is holding up incredibly well, with many outlets adding magazines and other items to their home-delivery range.
  6. Supermarkets are booming.  This is obvious and we will make the most of it while we have it. Working with our distributor, we have actually increased supply to both promotional placements of Home Design magazine and routine range for Grand Designs Australia magazine, plus numerous others in our stable.
  7. Digital Engagements are all up. This is also somewhat obvious as the work-from-home workforce expands. This would show in the figures of our business partners as much as our own, but here is a selection from the Complete Home Network:
    – Traffic sourced from Social — up 126% YOY
    – Traffic sourced from eComs — up 9% YOY
    – Traffic sourced from Referral — up 105% YOY
    – Traffic sourced from Direct/Other (usually our own magazines) — up 201% YOY
  8. Digital Editions are up. While not the biggest channel, there are Apple die-hards and channel users who prefer a digital edition to a print one. Of these, the App Store is up the most, by 9%, possibly due to the improvement of this product by Apple in November, 2019.

“It is fair to say this market is a strange world at present and we should not expect everything that is currently up to continue operating in this frenzied state,” said Publisher Janice Williams. “However, as we see hugely concerning unemployment figures, it is worth noting, and with some sadness, that perhaps the groups most affected were not the mature, established Australians who were buying magazines and investing in home renovations anyway.”

At Universal Home Group we specialise in finding spending markets — those consumers at the pointy end of the purchase funnel who are active NOW.

This informs the very way that we reach the market, as well as how we market the products of our business partners.

We have never been interested in talking up the numbers as only a certain number of homes are built, renovated or decorated each year.

We have always been interested in reaching the right number of people who are active with projects now. This requires granularity and precision.

Home Design Face Book Poll:
Have Your Home Renovation Plans Changed with the Current Headlines?

For further information ring Janice Williams on (02) 9887 0316



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