Havas research highlights print as an effective medium for brand perception

With the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns disrupting the production and distribution of newspapers and magazines across India, Covid-19 happened to be a game-changer for print as a medium in the country. 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 and catastrophic times.

15 Sep 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

Sanchita Roy, head of strategy, Havas Media Group India

Bolstering its focus on investing in — Meaningful Media – ‘Media That Matters' — Havas Media Group India has released its latest whitepaper that decodes the effectiveness of print as a medium and the shifts in readership behaviour during the pandemic. The research involved Stratified Random Sampling from YouGov’s proprietary panel which consists of 200,000 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.

Although close to 40% 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, the time spent in reading newspapers increased significantly, especially in the age group of 41-50 years.

Print ranks third, after television and social media as the most credible source of news. Approximately, 15% of readers shifted to regional or vernacular publications, on the heels of trust and tenability. This has also given way to some interesting trends. For instance, in the South, nearly 60% readers sought print as a medium to gain more knowledge. While in the West, around 33% consumers read newspapers to find local news.

The report also reveals that there was a huge uptake of news apps. Around 57% of the respondents of this study use news apps.

Apart from being a daily habit, some of the top reasons for reading newspapers continue to be gaining more knowledge, staying updated about current affairs and improving language skills. Content related to science and technology, global affairs and health remained some of the preferred and most-read sections following general news. 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.

Some of the findings specific to the auto category revealed that print has the highest effectiveness in driving brand awareness, of nearly 55% 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% skipped them.

Apart from the auto industry, print continues to be the preferred source of media to drive efficiency 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.

Sanchita Roy, head of strategy, Havas Media Group India, said, “At Havas Media, our philosophy is to continuously study and monitor brands and media that matters. In the Covid-19 wreaked marketplace that has led to dynamic consumer habits, this has become even more critical. Therefore, we have aligned ourselves with the Havas global network and its planning teams and tool suite to routinely map trends across sectors, industries, mediums, and evolving marketing technologies so that we can provide the best and most impactful media solutions to our marquee clients. Over the last two years, we have also beefed up our teams and talent pool in areas including data, convergence, automation and AI, strategy, eComm and marketplace, and so on. Our endeavour is to become India’s biggest think tank and emerge as the most authentic and reliable voice for all stakeholders in the industry during such volatile times and lead the thought leadership conversations in the advertising and marketing space.”

She added, “To manifest this, we launched our sports research report a few months back. 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 several other reasons. Hence, it became pertinent to understand not only the consumer shifts that were happening in the media ecosystem but also to understand if print continued to be as effective as before in impacting business outcomes. Needless to mention that 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 perceptions. And this is the resurgence of print in India.”