Coronavirus: how do grey market advertisers stay visible?

The Covid-19 outbreak is continuing to impact almost every industry, and advertising is no exception. Nevertheless, companies with an older customer base are finding ways to continue to reach an audience that has been told to stay at home.

One of the primary concerns for print media is the risk of decreasing circulations, meaning less eyes on ads. However, there is positive news on this front. Kantar reports that consumers have increased their usage of almost all forms of media in the past month, including magazines and newspapers1. Publishers are also taking steps to ensure that their circulations stay up as the situation develops, with The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and Daily Express offering free home delivery services to their readers, allowing those at home to continue enjoying the papers. Unsurprisingly, hobby magazines have seen a spike in circulation, with people doing crafts, puzzles and other hobbies for recreation at home.

Subscription magazines also remain a great part of the media mix for grey market advertisers. Magazine subscriptions seem to be on the up, and it appears increasingly likely that people will turn to the printed word for entertainment. Nearly a quarter of Yours readers are subscribers, while over 45% of the Radio Times’ total circulation is made up of subscriptions2. Some specialist magazines, such as The Oldie, have large subscription bases that form over 80% of the total circulation2. These subscribers have an emotional attachment to the title and are engaged enough to pay for each issue to be delivered to them. Subscription magazines will play an important role in continuing to entertain those at home, who will be eager to read their favourite magazine when it falls through the letterbox.

Direct mail is also very buoyant, as another great way to reach people through the letterbox. Griffin Media Solutions exclusively manages the placing of inserts into over 75 catalogue mailings and product despatches, which are mailed directly to homes across the country. As well as it being cost-effective to ‘piggyback’ another company’s mailings or product despatches, direct mail’s effectiveness is backed up by several key stats:

  • Addressed direct mail is opened by 57% of recipients as soon as it arrives3
  • The average person keeps advertising mail in their home for up to 17 days4
  • Leaflets and flyers are revisited on average 3.6 times3
  • Direct mail achieves a response rate of 4.4%, versus email’s 0.12%5

Surveys carried out by Kantar show that consumers don’t want brands to stop advertising, but they must not be insensitive or exploitative1. According to Kantar, the most important thing to consumers is that brands help them in their everyday life1. As long as the message and the product are right, brands catering to the senior sector can not only stay visible during this difficult time, but can also play their part in helping those in need.

Words: Jack Ferguson, business development executive at Griffin Media Solutions

Please get in touch to hear what Griffin Media Solutions could do for your business: 0845 643 8470.  




  1. Kantar, 2020. Brand Impact of Covid 19.
  2. Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2020.
  3. JICMAIL, 2018. New Currency For Mail.
  4. Royal Mail, 2020. Mail Made Easy.
  5. DMA, 2018. Why Direct Mail is Delivering.