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Print push back against the digital wave

Thursday, 25 June 2015
By Print 21 Online Article

Four out of five people prefer reading print on paper than on a digital device, according to a new survey by global print media initiative Two Sides.

UK and USA-based consumer research found that 84% of respondents understood, retained or used information that had been printed and read on paper much better than information received on a digital device. About 79% found printed media more relaxing to read and 83% stated a clear preference for reading print on paper for more complex topics.  Overall, 79% of respondents preferred to read print on paper when given the choice.

The survey also revealed that 60% of mobile/smart phone users were concerned about how those devices were damaging to their health because of eye strain, headaches and insomnia.

“While on-screen reading occupies an increasing amount of consumer time, people’s preferences are still for a physical reading experience and a ‘safe’ medium that is more informative, less distracting and less harmful to their health,” said Martyn Eustace, Director of Two Sides UK. “This indicates there is still a more fundamental and human way in which we react to the physicality of paper-based print. The results have lessons for all those who choose the way in which information is distributed, particularly for advertisers, marketers and educators who need to understand how information is being delivered, received, processed and retained.”

The findings have been backed by Pablo Del Campo, worldwide creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, who said that print was a more powerful medium than most people realise. “It’s time to question whether digital media delivers the better return on investment,” Del Campo told The Australian at the Cannes Lions International Festival. “We are seduced by digital media and it’s not necessarily because it’s more effective.  I feel it’s because it’s new. The movement online has gone too far. Maybe advertisers don’t know exactly what to do. They are experimenting because they need to and I understand that. Let’s wait a couple of years and see, but I feel print is not extinct.

“Print is still powerful,” said Del Campo. “The thing about print is that a consumer will be in silence and you have time to be exposed. Of course you have to catch the attention of somebody but if you get that attention then the type of relationship you can establish with the idea and the ­target audience is very good. Digital is more interactive but sometimes you want to read a print newspaper. It’s totally engaging and very effective.”

Two Sides Australia executive director Kellie Northwood said the survey confirmed what other research had already found.  “Consumers like paper. They trust print more than digital communications, they remember print messages for longer and with greater accuracy and they are less likely to immediately discard printed collateral.

“Roy Morgan Research, Nielsen, Australia Post, KMP Economics and more all find that people connect better with print and that print is a strong media channel for marketers. A KMP Economics survey earlier this year found that people are three times more likely to immediately discard an email than a printed letter. Nielsen’s Consumer and Media View research found that people spend on average 26 minutes a week reading catalogues, brochures and leaflets delivered through the letterbox, and Roy Morgan’s Media Most Useful sees print as a top three performer across all market segments.” said Northwood. “Print continues to deliver results and customers engage with it. As an industry, we need to use the Two Sides surveys and other research to challenge the myth that print is not relevant or effective,” she said.

The new study, commissioned by Two Sides UK and undertaken by research company Toluna, surveyed 500 consumers in the UK and 1,000 in the US on a number of issues relating to the switch from paper-based to digital media.

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