According to a new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by global research firm Toluna, print media saw significant disruption during the coronavirus pandemic as many people moved online for news and information. However, consumers’ preference for receiving and reading print on paper has rebounded over the past two years.
‘Some observers predicted that people who switched from paper to digital media during the pandemic would never return, but this has not been the case,’ said Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. ‘Across every category of media included in the survey, from books and magazines to newspapers and product catalogues, consumers’ preference for paper has increased since 2021.’
The 2023 Two Sides Trend Tracker Survey asked consumers how they prefer to receive and read various types of media – on paper, mobile/tablet, e-reader (e.g. Kindle), laptop/desktop or no preference. Results showed an increase from 2021 in the preference for paper over digital communication in the following categories.
Books – 50% prefer paper, up from 44%; magazines – 47% prefer paper, up from 38%, newspapers – 34% prefer paper, up from 29%, and catalogues – 30% prefer paper, up from 22%.
As might be expected, the survey showed that younger adults, those age 18 to 24 in particular, prefer to receive and read all types of media online. But even among these younger consumers, more than three in 10 prefer to read books and magazines in print.
The survey also revealed interesting trends over the last two years in consumer attitudes and habits related to how they consume news.
In 2021, 58% of consumers said they intended to read more news online in the future, but this number dropped to 53% in this year’s survey. Nearly six in 10 consumers (58%) said they would be concerned if printed newspapers were to disappear, up from 49% two years ago. More than half of consumers (51%) said they get a better understanding of the story when reading news in print versus online, up from 44%. And more than four in 10 (43%) said they trust news stories in print rather than online, up from 34%.
‘Print and digital media are often compared as an either/or proposition to suggest one is better than the other,’ Rowzie said. ‘but our research clearly shows that consumers value both. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits all digital communications strategy, savvy publishers, retailers and other businesses will continue to offer consumers a choice. In doing so, they will not only satisfy consumers who prefer print on paper, but also will assure that those with no or limited access to digital information – older Americans, those with disabilities, low-income individuals and many in rural areas – are not disadvantaged.’
The 2023 Two Sides Trend Tracker Survey queried 1,000 respondents over age 18 across the United States. It is the second of Two Sides’ biennial trend tracker studies designed to explore and better understand consumer perceptions, behaviors and preferences related to the sustainability of paper products.
TWO SIDES SOUTH AFRICA