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Print and Paper Packs a Punch in a Digital World

BY PHIL RIEBEL

Results of an international survey by Two Sides provides unique insight into 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 leading research company Toluna. Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in ten countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The results reveal a strong preference for print when it comes to recreational reading such as books, magazines, and news: 72 percent of global respondents prefer printed books, compared to only 9 percent preferring e-books. Significant country differences were also identified: in Germany, 75 percent of consumers prefer a printed newspaper, but in Spain, only 42 percent.

Trusted and True
Not only is there a global preference for print, there is also greater trust in print. 76 percent of all respondents believe “fake news” is a worrying trend and only 24 percent trust the news stories they read on social media. In addition, 63 percent 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. According to results, 68 percent of global survey respondents say they don’t pay attention to online ads and 62 percent find them annoying and usually not relevant. Also, 57 percent of global respondents do their best to block or avoid online ads.

Despite the shift towards receiving digital communications, 89 percent of consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronically) from financial organizations and service providers, with a further 77 percent agreeing 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 percent 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. Results show 71 percent of respondents are concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged and 73 percent 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.

Here are a few more key findings from around the globe:

Reading preferences
• France: 85 percent would rather read a book in print
• UK: 78 percent prefer printed magazines
• Germany: 75 percent prefer printed newspapers
• Australia: 63 percent prefer to shop with printed catalogues
• Brazil: 61 percent prefer their energy and utility bills in print

Trusted news
• South Africa: 87 percent think fake news is a worrying trend
• France: 74 percent would be very concerned if printed newspapers were to disappear
• U.S.: 71 percent believe reading news in a printed newspaper provides a deep understanding of the story
• France: 62 percent trust the news stories in printed newspapers
• New Zealand: Only 17 percent trust the news stories they read on social media

Digital overload
• France: 79 percent think it’s important to “switch off” and enjoy printed books and magazines
• U.S.: 73 percent believe reading a printed magazine is more enjoyable than reading a magazine on an electronic device
• UK: 72 percent believe reading a printed book is more enjoyable than reading a book on an electronic device
• Brazil: 67 percent believe they spend too much time on electronic devices
• Spain: 60 percent are concerned the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health

The drive to digital
• South Africa: 93 percent believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications from financial organizations and service providers
• UK: 84 percent 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 percent believe they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills or statements
• Spain: 79 percent are increasingly concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged
• France: 74 percent find it easier to track expenses and manage finances when it is printed on paper

About Two Sides
The survey was commissioned by Two Sides, a global initiative by companies from the graphic communications industry including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators. The members’ common goal is to promote the sustainability of the graphic communications industry and dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing users with verifiable information on why print and paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium.

The complete report is available from the Two Sides website at www.twosidesna.org.

 

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