A Periodical Incursion

Yesterday I was in Shoppers Drug Mart, looking for a copy of Business Week or Wired. Although their magazine section is pretty massive–I’d guess thirty feet of four foot high racks in an L shape–they had neither magazine.

I stepped back, and observed an amusing effect in the way the magazines were organized. It’s clear that originally the store had intended one rack to be periodicals targeted at women (health, celebrity gossip, beauty, yoga, interior design and so forth) and the other at men (sports, cars, computers, financial news, etc).

However, the stereotypical women’s magazines had begun annexing the men’s. About 70% of the total seemed targeted at women. I expect it was, in part, the explosion of yoga magazines that drove the latest advancement.

This probably makes a lot of sense, because my anecdotal observations indicate that women buy a lot more magazines than men.

I got to wondering about the history of gender-specificity in magazines. Have women always bought more magazines than men? Surely not. If I looked at analogous racks in the fifties, would it be mostly Horse and Hound and, you know, Scientific American?

I’m too busy to ask the Internet today, but if you’ve got any thoeries, let’s hear ’em.

In related news, one can’t write ‘men’s magazines’ without thinking of porn. Maxim and FHM, combined with the availability and, uh, ease of use of Internet pornography, seem to have eliminated pornographic magazines from all but the sleeziest of corner stores and bus stations. You sometimes see Playboy, but that’s about as raunchy as it gets.

Written by

Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.

13 comments

  1. It’s not just downtown. I don’t even look for magazines at the Shoppers Drug Mart’s out here in the sticks. Probably more than 80% are geared towards women. Which is fine, I can go to the Save On Foods next door to the SDM and pick up Wired or anything else.

  2. You can also see this phenomenon at the Broadway & Commercial Safeway. Womens magazines are slowly creeping across the gap, I noticed it about two weeks ago.

    I think the people to ask about this would be either owners or longtime employees of “Does Your Mother Know?”, the magazine store on 4th Ave in Kits.

  3. It probably depends on the neighbourhood too….though I find the easiest place to score Wired, and the Economist (!) is the local 7-11.

    I’ve also noticed the rise in women’s magazines, though I guess part of it might be that women are primarily marketed to with an eye to “why aren’t you prettier/have a nicer home/better at snagging a man?” whereas guys usually get “holy CRAP this computer/game/car/girl with boobs is COOL..oh btw buy this, that and the other”…and if you want to check all that “guy” stuff out, the internet is as good a medium as any.

    As far as men’s as in porno goes, I remember reading somewhere that in order to compete with the internet, Penthouse went more and more hardcore, to the point where it got pulled from drugstores and other merchants. Playboy stuck with their formula of 50 years and appear to be doing fine.

  4. I notice that the men’s magazines that are available widely are more resolutely men’s — the Maxims and FHMs and car and hip-hop and guitar and snowboarding mags. Trying to find general interest magazines like Business Week is getting harder.

  5. Ugh this drives me nuts too. the thing about the magazines at places like Shoppers is that they’re target to a specific TYPE of woman…one who reads Cosmo and hair style magazines.

  6. My theory is that men buy magazines for facts. Most men don’t buy car magazines unless they are looking for a new car.

    Also, computer magazines are getting wiped out by the internet.

    Women’s magazines are more general, and women will pick one up as something to relax with during some downtime.

  7. @Tim:

    “Also, computer magazines are getting wiped out by the internet.”

    I completely agree. I have not been able to understand purchasing a magazine on computers or videogames for years now, because all of that information is available online. You’re no longer a month behind everyone else!

  8. Pingback: TV Shows For Men

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: