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Nearly 40 % readers discontinued newspapers during pandemic, shows Havas Media report

But, significant uptick in time spent reading newspapers among current subscribers

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Mumbai: Covid-19 proved to be a game-changer for Print as a medium in India. The multiple waves of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns disrupted the production and distribution of newspapers and magazines across the country. Yet, despite the lack of readership data and interrupted circulations, Print emerged as one of the most credible sources of information for most consumers, brands, and marketers, during these volatile times, found Havas Media Group in its latest research.

The Group released its latest whitepaper bolstering its focus on investing in – Meaningful Media – “Media That Matters”. The report attempts to decode the effectiveness of print as a medium and the shifts in readership behaviour during the pandemic.

According to the report, close to 40 per cent of the readers discontinued newspaper subscriptions during the pandemic, mainly due to factors such as the risk of infection and change in media consumption patterns. However, the time spent reading newspapers increased significantly, especially in the age group of 41-50 years.

Approximately, 15 per cent of the readers shifted to regional or vernacular publications, on the heels of trust and tenability, giving way to some interesting trends. For instance, in the South, nearly 60 per cent of readers sought Print as a medium to gain more knowledge, while in the West, around 33 per cent of consumers read newspapers to find local news, according to the report.  

The report also reveals that there was a huge uptake of news apps. Around 57 per cent of the respondents of this study use news apps. 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, and health remained some of the preferred and most-read sections following general news.

While Television and Social Media were found to be the most credible source of news, print followed closely at the third position.

The research involved Stratified Random Sampling from YouGov’s proprietary panel which consists of over 2,00,000 active panelists in India, aged between 21-50 years, male and female with a current subscription to at least one daily newspaper spread across 14 key cities in India.

Print drives highest efficacy for automobile industry

“A category-wise deep dive on the effectiveness of the medium for advertisers and marketers revealed that Print plays a key role in influencing brand perception, from Quality to Price to Trust, especially within the Automobile category,” says the report.

Some of the findings specific to the auto category revealed that Print has the highest effectiveness in driving brand awareness, of nearly 55 per cent 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, Hyundai and Tata Motors ranked highest among the most recalled auto brands. Consumers paid higher attention to advertisements in newspapers, and only 10 per cent skipped them.

Apart from the auto industry, Print continues to be the preferred source of medium to drive efficacy for other categories like smartphones, finance, and education as well. And even though the print medium saw a dip in readership, owing to the pandemic, the consumer expectation continues to grow stronger in newspapers in terms of content and not just news.

“This is the resurgence story of Print in India,” said Havas Media Group, head of strategy, Sanchita Roy 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. 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 perception.”

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