We’ve frequently been told (and much of the evidence suggests) that print is a dying medium. Over recent years there has been a swathe of print publications moving to digital-only as their business models come under pressure from changing consumer habits. The shift claimed another victim earlier in September, with women’s title Marie Claire announcing it would be going online-only in order to ‘future-proof’ the brand.
However, new research suggests there might be life in the old dog yet.
The Rethink Ink study found that while all audiences are reading more across digital channels than a year ago, younger generations are hungry for more content and are more likely to be reading across both print and digital channels.
Interestingly, the survey also revealed that both the Gen Z group (aged 18-24) and the group above (aged up to 35), were also reading more print titles than other age ranges. This is somewhat surprising as we’re frequently told that younger people, so-called digital natives, have turned their back on print.
Delving deeper into the study, there are some areas where younger generations’ engagement with print is more marked. For instance, while 15% of those who read trade magazines say they are doing so more often today than a year ago, that figure almost doubles to 28% for Gen Z. Similarly, across all age ranges, while only 10% say they are reading more of companies’ own magazines, brochures and reports than they were a year ago, the figure almost doubles to 19% for those aged 25-34.
What to make of this?
The study concludes that print messaging is perceived as more memorable and that a significant minority have greater trust in print than digital. Almost half of those surveyed agreed that they were more likely to remember or recall something they had read in print rather than on screen.
The evidence suggests that print enjoys a sense of credibility that competitor platforms lack. In the era of fake news, consumers and brand advertisers are increasingly scrutinising the channels and the content they can trust and which (they believe) has true authority.
While it may be overstating things to say there is new-found momentum in print channels, we’ve seen in recent times major digital challenger brands turning to print to build customer loyalty and engagement. Last year, Airbnb launched a magazine, airbnbmag; earlier this year, Facebook followed suit with a new print quarterly, Grow, which is available in ‘selected airports and train business lounges’.
We are all currently living in a very crowded media ecosystem and it’s heartening to see that print remains an important component of multi-platform content strategies. Importantly, it can offer a shortcut to quality for an increasingly sceptical audience.
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