There is an opinion that paper is one of the most jeopardized species in the publishing world. With dropping outlay and the number of subscribers, there’s no doubt print was in the front line in the fight for maintaining readers’ interest. But nobody so far has – or should – announce its defeat in that battle.
One of paper’s fans is surely Michael Brunt, Marketing Manager at “The Economist”, who notices in his column that his magazine’s readers form an interesting mix: among new subscribers, those who are more interested in the paper version are young people, particularly students.
Brunt believes this goes along with the findings of the latest research by MindBodyGreen MindBodyGreen, which say that millenials feel overwhelmed by the social media and technologies in their lives. “The report, along with personal experience, allows us to apply a dose of skepticism to thinking that the wider audience of young people, who from the start have been functioning in a digital world, is attracted by the possibility of an online subscription. That may be the case across the industry, but we are discovering that the group of people most willing to pay for content digitally is more likely to be between the ages of 35 and 44. This is validated by research that says baby boomers are adopting mobile and social media technologies at a blockbuster rate, and also by the observation that the often-forgotten Generation X came into technology as youngsters and has continued to embrace it as they have matured. This obviously does not mean we are not going to see the continuation of what we’ve observed in the past few years – a steady migration towards digital. It means that – despite a popular (and mostly true) narration saying that people tend to use digital media more and more often – print is not consigning to history” Brunt writes.
Each medium is a different way of reception, and a different intention with which we reach for it. Readers make the selection consciously. The nature of the Internet as a medium is that it brings many distortions. Websites have many different functions, including e-commerce, communication, playing, and last but not least – informative. A printed newspaper is dedicated solely to information, so a conscious reader reaching for it has a goal” explains Arthur. D. Santana, co-author of a research carried out by the Houston University in 2014, proving that readers of printed issue were not only able to read more, but also to remember more information that people who read the same information in the digital form. An important aspect of printed message is that we still tend to trust paper more willingly (a fact confirmed e.g. by last year research by MarketingSherpa).
Acquiring knowledge is not the only motivation behind choosing the printed issues. What counts is the nature of the medium, and the meaning it carries. Here’s where printed can be a perfect medium for a broad group of readers looking for exclusive, but easily accessible goods. “In future printed publications will be what people desire,” Brunt believes. Readers will continue to appreciate being able to hold a magazine in their hands, as they will thing of it as something classy, emanating with magic – the magic of paper. In the times when we’re surrounded by digital media that magic seems to be even more powerful. Brunt predicts in the next few years printed magazines will be categorized as inexpensive luxury good. It is a new and quite attractive group, because the consumption of luxury goods has not dropped like other sectors, even despite the great recession (The True Luxury Global Consumer Insight 2015 estimates by 2021 luxury consumers will be spending 1015 billion euros). For this reason, print will continue to be a valuable advertising medium.
There is another simultaneous trend that is going to have an impact. As Brunt projects, printed publications are going to be perceived as “experiential products” (that is based on experience, such as a film, concert, meal at a restaurant or a visit to a museum), which are becoming gradually more popular among consumers of all ages (and can have great meaning to advertisers). The relaunch of “The New York Times Magazine” in a bigger, more attractive volume is an example of publications heading that direction.
Marketers responsible for paper publications need to keep those trends in mind and present their products in a new light of “everyday luxury” or “experiencing” to find a lasting place in the life of consumers looking for such attributes. More and more media companies deciding to take such steps is an assurance that print does have a value that is not going to vanish.