Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



October 1, 1981 -- We’ve known from the very beginning, since September of last year, that we carried a constituency of unusual dimensions and propensities with our Frequent Flyer audience. We knew that our readers were consumers of scope and discretion: corporate executives and professionals, leaders in the academic world and the government — the people who make their presence felt in business and personal matters. And all are uniformly identifiable by the frequency of their travel.

Prepublication demographic studies showed that our readers, now numbering 250,000, were endowed with impressive credentials: median incomes of $52,000; 40 domestic roundtrips by air a year; 85 hotel-room nights filled annually, more than two cars rented every month. More than four out of ten flew abroad on business regularly, and 78 percent used the skies to reach vacation destinations.

Last spring, with only nine issues of Frequent Flyer behind us, we undertook our first readership study. We commissioned Erdos & Morgan, recognized experts in this field, to produce the survey. They randomly mailed out 2,000 questionnaires to our readers, asking their cooperation in responding to eight pages of questions on their habits and lifestyles.

The response was just slightly beyond incredible (and I am bragging). Nearly 60 percent of those queried sent back their replies (an astonishing 58.1 percent, to be exact.) Actually, I wasn’t all that surprised by the magnitude of the return — we’ve been getting an uninterrupted flow of unsolicited letters from readers since the first day, averaging more than fifty a week, with nearly all of them laudatory about Frequent Flyer.

As impressive as the size of the response were the levels of readership. Here are some examples: Four out of the last four issues of the magazine were read by 65.7 percent of the subscribers, while 13.6 percent read three out of four. This means that nearly 80 percent of the recipients of our magazine are reaching for the last 75 percent of the issues. And on average they reached for Frequent Flyer nearly twice each month; the median was 1.9.

One-third of respondents, the largest group, spent from 30 to 59 minutes with the publication; the median was 48 minutes. In addition to the primary subscriber, another 1.51 readers went for the magazine. The actual reading is done chiefly at work, 52 percent, with 34 percent indulging at home and 19 percent on the road. After Frequent Flyer is read, 60 percent do not immediately discard the publication; 9.6 percent save the entire issue, 18 percent clip and save items of interest, 23 percent pass it along to business associates, six percent give it to a friend or relative, and 9 percent place it in a waiting room.

Returning to the demographics of the Frequent Flyer reader, there’s good news for the distaff side. In round numbers, our pre-publication survey showed that only 7 percent of our readers were women; that number has doubled to 14 percent. I’m not sure of the significance of this change, but we could safely speculate along two lines: that more women are moving into higher echelons, and/or that more of them are receiving the OAG Pocket Flight Guide, and thus the magazine. In family terms we circulate among a very stable audience: 79 percent of our readers are married; 9 percent are never-married singles; 9 percent are separated or divorced and 1 percent are widowed. Grouping the various age categories, we find that 75 percent of our readers are between the ages of 30 and 54, with 93 percent having been exposed to the advantages of higher education; 23 percent attended college, 30 percent graduated from a four-year curriculum, 17 percent went for post-graduate (studies) without a degree, 18 percent got their masters, and 5 percent hold a doctorate.

And the statistics march on.

During the past twelve months 52 percent of our readers have journeyed outside of the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii, and they went 2.3 times. Domestically, they flew 35.3 roundtrips, with 29.5 of these business only, 4.5 for pleasure alone and 4.7 for combined business and pleasure.

Almost half of our readers, 48.8 percent, are involved in the selection of convention or meeting sites.

Almost 90 percent (89.6 percent), own a home.

Twenty-six percent are involved in business ventures that employ more than 10,000 people; and 28 percent between 1,000 and 9,999 employees.

Wristwatches priced at $500 or more attract 29.6 percent; video cassette recorders, 25.6 percent; 35mm cameras, 70.6 percent; component stereo, 65.9 percent; power boats with inboard motors, 9.8 percent; sailboats, 7.8 percent; Jacuzzi/hot tubs, 7.3 percent; and in-ground home pools, 14.6 percent.

They are predictably involved with investments: money markets, 51.8 percent; stocks 71.6 percent; mutual funds, 19.9 percent; precious metals, 16.4 percent; and tax-free investments, 25.7 percent.

And they consume a lot of quality liquor.

You guys and gals are one helluva group.

This column originally appeared in Frequent Flyer magazine.

Copyright © 1980–2007 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.