Who Are You?

By staff May 1, 2002

Like the proverbial tree that falls in a forest, a magazine truly exists only when someone actually opens it up and begins reading. The more we know about who you are and what you care about, the better our chances of making that happen. That's why we recently decided to find out exactly who reads SARASOTA Magazine.

To do that, we hired the nation's leading media research firm, New York's Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI), to conduct a survey of our paid subscribers. Those subscribers come from 43 states and nine countries; and we treasure each and every one of them, because in this business, paid subscribers are the benchmark of success. Building and maintaining paid subscriptions takes a tremendous investment, and not just initially, but year after year. It's easier-and a whole lot cheaper-just to buy a mailing list of wealthy residents, as many regional magazines do; but people who want a magazine enough to pay for it are much likelier to spend time on its pages and to patronize its advertisers as well.

MRI conducts the research that almost every major advertising decision in this country is based on, compiling a comprehensive portrait-the "MRI index"-of the average American's purchasing and media habits, from the toothpaste he buys to the number of minutes she spends with her copy of Time Magazine. As the leading authority on magazine readers, MRI knows all about the elite audiences the country's top publications attract, but even the MRI researchers were impressed by you guys.

First of all, says MRI's Karen Tubridy, you're dream readers, poring over each issue and then saving it for future reference. Ninety-five percent of you read three out of every four issues, and 90 percent read every issue. "Any time that number is over 80 percent, I know a magazine is on target, and you're way over that," Tubridy points out. The average subscriber spends about an hour reading each issue, putting us on a par with such content-heavy national magazine as Forbes or Fortune; and our "passalong" readership of 2.9-the number of people who read each copy-also ranks "very high" even among national magazines, Tubridy notes.

No passive audience, you act on what you read about, from dining at restaurants featured on our pages (75 percent) to visiting specific stores (52 percent) and using our calendar of events to make entertainment reservations (25 percent). If you're a seasonal resident, you're likely to make sure your magazine follows you north in the spring; and wherever you happen to be, your favorite things to read about in SARASOTA are food and wine, events and entertainment, architecture and interior design and personality profiles.

But let's get a more personal. MRI gave us a five-inch-thick binder filled with 180 separate charts about your habits and buying patterns, so we can talk about subjects from your fitness regimen (79 percent of you walk for exercise and 32 percent belong to health clubs) to your driving style (17 percent own Mercedes Benzes-a whopping 17 times the national average).

Some vital statistics: With an average age of 59, you're 10 years above the Sarasota norm, although many of you are considerably younger than that; 12 percent have children under 17 living at home. Seniors or not, you can hold your own with any high-tech young hacker-87 percent of you visited the Internet this year and 47 percent have your own personal laptops. You're also impressively well-educated: 91 percent attended college, 71 percent graduated (versus 22 percent of the U.S. population) and 36 percent did post-graduate work. Whether you're working or retired (38 percent), you're probably a professional or manager (68 percent) or a sales executive (17 percent).

Those high-level careers must be how you've amassed so much wealth. You reported a median annual household income of $147,400 and median net worth of $945,700. What with Internet millionaires and high-paid basketball stars, we tend to assume numbers like that are common these days, but the fact is, they're not. To put them in some perspective, the average American household income is $45,300; the average household income of people who subscribe to the Wall Street Journal is a little over $90,000; and the average net worth of people who read city magazines (a wealthy group, by any measure) is $525,000. But before you get too cocky, we should tell you that subscribers to our Naples publication, Gulfshore Life, who were also surveyed by MRI, are even wealthier-they have a median household income of $216,700 and an average net worth of $1,407,400.

If it's any consolation, you patronize the arts at higher levels than they do, with 76 percent of you attending live theater last year (versus 66 percent of them and 15 percent of the general population) and 25 percent taking in the opera (versus Gulfshore's 12 percent). Well-heeled or not, you appreciate a bargain-one out of four of you used our discount ticket coupons to attend those arts events, and that includes 10 percent of those with annual incomes of more than $150,000!

Not that you don't know how to spend your money. You dine out about 12 times a month, with 84 percent of you drinking wine with those meals (versus a national average of just 25 percent). About 80 percent of you order your liquor by the brand, and 59 percent spent an average of $1,523 on fine jewelry last year. Thirty-nine percent of you will buy or lease a car next year, 24 percent own a boat and 10 percent own or have access to a private plane.

Consumption is just part of your story, however; the real wealth of our readers lies in the richness of their experience. You are four times likelier than the average American to own a valid passport (82.7 percent of you have one); and 75 percent of you used it for international travel in the last three years, with 49 percent of those travelers taking three or more trips abroad during that period. You're twice as likely as most Americans to travel inside the United States, and even when you're home-or perhaps I should say at "one of your homes," since 35 percent of you have more than one-you keep busy. Among your activities: working in your garden (55 percent), taking adult education classes (25 percent) or just sprucing things up-57 percent of you did some remodeling or redecorating last year, and 33 percent plan some in the year to come. About half of you belong to golf and tennis clubs or plan to join in the next year, and you still find time for community service, with 30 percent serving on boards of directors.

All in all, you're a dazzling audience, one that publishers anywhere would envy. We're proud to be creating a magazine for you, and we're determined to do everything we can to keep you reading us for years to come. But though you're likely to hear us bragging about you every now and then, we know we can't take all the credit for our good fortune. In city magazine readership, as in real estate, it all starts with location, location, location. Sarasota the city attracts an incredible group of people, and that's why for 23 years SARASOTA the magazine has attracted readers like you.

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