Although close to 40% of the readers discontinued newspaper subscriptions during the pandemic, largely due to risk of infection and change in media consumption patterns, time spent reading newspapers increased significantly, especially in the 41-50 years age group
NEW DELHI: Print media was among the most credible sources of information for consumers, brands, and marketers during the coronavirus pandemic, as per a study by Havas Media Group India. Despite the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown disrupting production and distribution of newspapers and magazines across the country, print media maintained its status of being a credible and trusted platform for information
Print ranked third, after television and social media, as the most credible source of news. The medium has survived despite the lack of readership data and interrupted circulations, revealed the whitepaper titled Meaningful Media - 'Media That Matters' by Havas Media Group India.
The study was conducted on 200,000 respondents aged 20-50 years using YouGov’s proprietary panel consists of male and female readers with a current subscription to at least one daily newspaper, spread across 14 cities in India.
The findings said that although close to 40% of the readers discontinued newspaper subscriptions during the pandemic, largely due to risk of infection and change in media consumption patterns, time spent reading newspapers increased significantly, especially in the age group of 41-50 years.
Approximately, 15% of readers shifted to regional or vernacular publications, on the heels of trust and tenability. This has also given way to some interesting trends. For instance, in southern India, nearly 60% readers sought print as a medium to gain more knowledge, and in the western part of the, around 33% consumers read newspapers to find local news.
Apart from being a daily habit, some of the top reasons for reading newspapers continues to be gaining more knowledge, staying updated about current affairs and improving language skills. Content related to science & technology, global affairs & health remained some of the preferred and most-read sections following general news. There has been a huge uptake of news apps. Around 57% of the respondents of this study use news apps.
The study also did a category-wise deep dive on the effectiveness of the medium for advertisers and marketers. The results revealed that print plays a key role in influencing brand perception, from quality, price to trust, especially within the automobile category.
When it comes to advertising, auto category print promotions have the highest effectiveness in driving brand awareness, of nearly 55% for first car intenders. For repeat intenders, print helps drive brand preference across the funnel. Car advertisements were the second most recalled after mobile phones (higher amongst repeat intenders). Maruti Suzuki India, Hyundai India and Tata Motors are the most recalled auto brands.
Consumers paid higher attention to advertisements in newspapers, and only 10% skipped them. Apart from the auto industry, smartphones, finance, and education related advertisements also did well.
Even though the medium saw a dip in readership, owing to the pandemic, consumer expectation continues to grow stronger in newspapers in terms of content and not just news.
Sanchita Roy, head of strategy, Havas Media Group India, said with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the print sector suffered a huge loss especially on the back of the cancellation of subscriptions and other reasons.
"Hence, it became pertinent to understand not only the consumer shifts that was happening in the media ecosystem but also understand if Print continued to be as effective as before in impacting business outcomes. Needless to mention that despite the short-term de-growth, Print is back with a bang. It continues to be one of the most trusted and credible mediums that helps influence brand perceptions," she added.
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