September 20, 2014

Dear reader-who are you?

Every editor thinks her readers are special, but I know it for a fact. That's because Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI), the nation's leading media research firm, recently completed a study of Gulfshore Life subscribers. Those subscribers come from 47 states and 15 foreign countries, from Australia to Venezuela; and we cherish every one of them, because in this business, paid subscribers are the benchmark of success. Building and maintaining paid subscriptions takes a huge investment, year after year. It's easier-and much 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. We've had an impressive base of paid subscribers for years, but recently our numbers have soared, with new subscriptions growing by 165 percent this past year.

That's an astonishing number, but then, everything about you guys is astonishing, according to the experts at MRI. First off, says the company's Karen Tubridy, you're dream readers, poring over each issue and saving it for future reference. Ninety-five percent of you read three out of every four issues, and 92 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," notes Tubridy.

The average reader spends about an hour with each issue, putting us on a par with such content-heavy national magazines as Forbes or Fortune. More than half of our readers own two or more homes, and part-time residents make sure the magazine follows them to their Northern homes. Wherever you happen to be, your favorite things to read about in Gulfshore Life are food and wine; the "Home and Condo" section about homes and design; shopping; events and entertainment; and personality profiles.

But let's get more personal. MRI compiled 180 separate charts about your habits and buying patterns, so we can talk about subjects from your fitness regimen-81 percent of you walk for exercise and 61 percent belong to country clubs or plan to join this year-to your driving style-17 percent own Mercedes-Benzes, nine times the national average.

You're well educated-92 percent attended college and 36 percent did post-graduate work-and cultured, too, with 74 percent attending live performances last year, versus 15 percent of the general population. Your average age is 58; and that's a young 58, since you're tech-savvy (51 percent have your own personal laptop), fashion-conscious (spending an average of $1,933 on fine jewelry last year) and involved (60 percent serve on corporate and community boards of directors). You're four times likelier than the average American to own a passport, and 73 percent of you traveled abroad in the last three years, with 53 percent of those taking three or more trips during that period.

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 your wealth: a median annual household income of $216,700 and an average net worth of $1,407,400. What with CEO stock options and sports stars, we tend to think numbers like that are common these days, but the fact is, they're not. To put them in perspective, the average American household income is $45,300; the average household income of Wall Street Journal subscribers 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.

All in all, you're a dazzling group, one that publishers anywhere would envy. We're proud to be creating a magazine for you-but we know we can't take all the credit for our good fortune. In regional magazines, as in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. The Gulfshore attracts an incredible group of people, and that's why for 33 years, Gulfshore Life has attracted readers like you. 

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