The make and break of New Year’s resolutions

Inspiration for New Year’s resolutions often begins with reading a newspaper. Research shows we mentally switch on to the idea of improving our lives when we pick up a weekend paper and emma data shows how advertisers can connect with this desire.

The make and break of New Year’s resolutions

Self-improvement is the big theme when we make a New Year’s resolution.

Aspirations to read more and lead a healthier lifestyle top the list, according to UK study Quirkology, which tracked the success of 3,000 such promises.New Years Resolutions_Top 5 table

Weekend newspapers often inspire declarations of self-improvement. They ignite the desire to travel, improve life styles and take time to read for leisure.

Sections dedicated to health and wellbeing, travel and reviews of books and music encourage the reader to think more about how they spend their time and where to focus their lives.

Readers don’t pick up a newspaper to switch off – they do it to switch on.New Years Resolutions digital version

Fairfax Media’s research earlier this year states: “It’s not about switching off, but switching on something different.”

The fashionable media description of weekend papers and tablet-based content as a “lean-back” experience is misleading. Physically, readers might be reclining comfortably but mentally they are fired up.

They switch on the creative side of their brain and make space to dream, fantasise and reconnect with ambitions and goals.

Data reveals big opportunities

emma states newspaper readers have above average incomes, so branded sections such as money, health, lifestyle and homes, from which readers can derive their New Year’s resolution inspiration, are a significant commercial opportunity for marketers.

Synergies between newspapers’ print and digital platforms in these content areas are so tight that the numbers compare favourably with any media.

Almost 16 million newspapers are sold every week, and readership far exceeds that total. According to emma (Sept 2013), the most read newspaper branded sections by genre over a four-week period (exc. TV guides) are:

  • Travel  – 7,435,000
  • Sport  – 7,200,000
  • Leisure, Lifestyle  – 5,919,000
  • Property –  5,957,000
  • Health – 5,324,000
  • Money  – 4,157,000

Readers ready to decide

Weekend newspaper readers tend to be in the right frame of mind to consider and make purchasing decisions, including ones relevant to their resolutions and goals, whether that be a gym membership, savings account or renovations.

emma says newspaper readers:

  • Focus on financial goals – they are 20% more likely to have a savings account (money sections).
  • Need to improve their health – they are 22% less likely to agree they are ‘’taking steps to improve their health (health + wellbeing sections).
  • Pick up a book four times a month compared to 3.4 times for non-newspaper readers (arts sections).

Readers also

  • Want to look out for others – they are 56% more likely to have done volunteer work.
  • Argue less – they are 15% less likely to be critical or quarrelsome and 17% less likely to find fault with others.
  • Believe they have organised lives – they are 20% less likely to see themselves as disorganised and careless.

Self-Help – Men vs. Women

Self-improvement is a theme of the modern age, and newspaper readers’ desires simply reflect this.

Some 278,804 self-help books feature on and two – ‘’Quiet: The Power of Introverts’’ and ‘’The 5 Languages of Love” – are among 2013’s biggest sellers.

Men and women fare best when they approach self-help and, consequently, their New Year resolutions differently.

Men should focus on making their goals tangible and specific, according to Quirkology. Rewards of success are also important to them. Working out twice a week might translate as being more attractive to the opposite sex.

Women succeed when they share their goals and build a support network, minimising the risk they might give up at a first attempt.

These approaches increase the chance of success by up to 22%,.


Newspaper readers are more interested in the world, new ideas and self-improvement. Combined with their higher disposable income, they make a great group to connect with for advertisers around happiness, health and self-improvement.

New Years Resolutions digital version


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