The popularity of content about home improvement has increased considerably in the last decade
The popularity of content about home improvement has increased considerably in the last decade. This is evident in Australia with the performance of reality TV shows like The Block, which is now in its 12th season, House Rules and The Living Room, which has a DIY element to it. Compared to other categories in the magazine industry, home titles have resisted dramatic downfalls in readership.
Bauer Media brought Homes+ to Australia in late 2014 to bank on the growing craze. The brand turned two years old in August 2016.
“The thing about Homes+ that really works is that it is so accessible and practical,” said Sue Wheeler, the new editor of the magazine. “The real woman, her family and her home are at the centre of Homes+. We are not about the architect’s home or the designer’s home.
“These are real women who style their own home, and do it very well. The readers also want to gain ideas and inspirations from other readers that they see in our magazines.”
The average Homes+ reader is aged 44 and has a very hands-on approach to renovating or styling their homes. This means they are more engaged with the magazine than with other titles in the market, Wheeler pointed out.
“We are in an area where people are spending more time and money thinking about improving their homes, buying new homes, and everyone is becoming a home stylist,” Wheeler stated.
“They are quietly confident that they can create a home that they love. People are thinking a lot more about reflecting their personality within their homes. This has become much more common in the last 10 years or so.”
The accessible factor of the Homes+ brand comes in with the content that fills the pages of the monthly magazine. The reader is not cheap, but rather “savvy with her money”, Wheeler noted.
“The readers have an average household income of over $106,000, so they certainly have the money,” she stated. “But who doesn’t like to go and shop and get bargains?
“We are conscious of budget. We offer features and products that are affordable. That’s the USP for us. We pride ourselves on being affordable, because she [the reader] is savvy and she expects that.”
Wheeler emphasised a number of times during the conversation that the photographs of homes featured in the magazine are of real people who have styled or renovated the space themselves.
“We have photographers who find houses for us all over the country,” Wheeler said. “We are specifically Australian, so we don’t feature international homes. That is something that is really distinguishable for Homes+.
“We will have people saying, ‘Look, I’ve done this to my home. Would you like to come in and have a look at it?’ We will send out photographers to do that.
“We don’t send professional stylists to homes, so the homes are real.”
This helps the magazine brand stay authentic to its readers and its mission to be accessible.
The brand’s approach to content and its relationship with its audience have helped increase its readership. According to Roy Morgan figures for 12 months to June 2016, the magazine’s readership has grown by 37.6% to 117,000.
Working with Nick Chan
Chan was named CEO of Bauer Media earlier this year. This meant the return of the Wheeler and Chan partnership.
Wheeler was approached by Chan to set up a team for the launch of Women’s Health magazine over 10 years ago when he was the CEO of Pacific Magazines.
On the opportunity to work with Chan as the boss again, Wheeler said: “I am very happy that he is running this company. I always enjoyed working at Pacific when he was the CEO. I am really happy to be here now. I am enjoying it very much.”
In a recent interview with Mediaweek, Chan said that the publisher would be carefully reviewing each of the titles in Bauer’s stable to see where operations can be improved. Wheeler echoed this by saying the way content travels from Homes+ magazine to Bauer’s online homes destination Homes to Love is currently being refined.