As digital information gains momentum in the 21st century, popular opinion suggests that print is under threat. However, the results of an international survey by Two Sides provides insight into just how print and paper is viewed, preferred and trusted by consumers around the globe.
In June 2017, a survey of over 10,700 consumers was commissioned by Two Sides and carried out by research company Toluna. Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in ten countries: South Africa, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The results reveal a strong preference for print when it comes to recreational reading e.g. books, magazines, news etc. 72% of global respondents prefer printed books, compared to only 9% preferring e-books. Significant country differences were also identified: in Germany, 75% of consumers prefer a printed newspaper, but in Spain, only 42%.
Not only is there a global preference for print, there is also greater trust in print. 76% of all respondents believe ‘fake news’ is a worrying trend and only 24% trust the news stories they read on social media. In addition, 63% of all respondents believe reading news in a printed newspaper provides a deep understanding of the story.
The survey also revealed consumers have a negative perception of online advertising. 68% of global respondents say they don’t pay attention to online ads and 62% find them annoying and usually not relevant. 57% of global respondents do their best to block or avoid online ads.
Despite the shift towards receiving digital communications, 89% of consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronically) from financial organisations and service providers, with a further 77% agreeing that they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills and statements.
The common claims assisting this drive to digital, such as ‘Go Green – Go Paperless’ and ‘Save Trees’, are creating consumer suspicion as 62% of global respondents believe the switch to digital is because the sender wants to save money, not because it is ‘better for the environment’.
Concerns about security and privacy were also evident. 71% are concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged and 73% keep paper copies of important documents at home for safety and security.
Overall, findings conclude that consumers trust, enjoy and gain a deeper understanding of information read in print, with signs of digital fatigue and concern for electronic information security and privacy evident.
Key findings from around the globe:
• South Africa: 72% would rather read a book in print.
• UK: 78% prefer printed magazines.
• Germany: 75% prefer printed newspapers.
• Australia: 63% prefer to shop with printed catalogues.
• Brazil: 61% prefer their energy and utility bills in print.
• U.S.: 63% read addressed advertising mail at least once a week.
• Italy: 57% read a printed magazine at least once a week.
• Spain: 56% read a printed book at least once a week.
• South Africa: 83% read a printed magazine at least once a month.
• Australia: 54% browse and shop for products using a printed catalogue weekly.
• France: 35% never read marketing emails.
• South Africa: 87% think fake news is a worrying trend.
• France: 74% would be very concerned if printed newspapers were to disappear.
• U.S.: 71% believe reading news in a printed newspaper provides a deep understanding of the story.
• France: 62% trust the news stories in printed newspapers.
• New Zealand: Only 17% trust the news stories they read on social media.
• France: 79% think it’s important to ‘switch off’ and enjoy printed books and magazines.
• U.S.: 73% believe reading a printed magazine is more enjoyable than reading a magazine on an electronic device.
• UK: 72% believe reading a printed book is more enjoyable than reading a book on an electronic device.
• Brazil: 67% believe they spend too much time on electronic devices.
• South Africa: 60% are concerned the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health.
• UK: 78% don’t pay attention to most online ads.
• Australia: 66% can’t remember the last time they willingly clicked an online ad.
• Germany: 64% find online advertisements annoying and usually not relevant.
• U.S.: 54% are more likely to take action after seeing an ad in a printed newspaper or magazine than if they saw the same ad online.
The drive to digital
• South Africa: 93% believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications from financial organisations and service providers.
• UK: 84% believe if they choose to receive bills and statements electronically, they expect to have the option to go back to paper communication.
• U.S.: 83% believe they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills or statements.
• Spain: 79% are increasingly concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged.
• France: 74% find it easier to track expenses and manage finances when it is printed on paper.