Given the large sample sizes at a local level and the validated readership methodology used, the recently launched ROOTS data is able to give a very good view on what’s happening to readerships in the real world in South Africa’s urban zones.
The 2013 results have been very interesting for various print media. At a time when a mostly negative perception surrounds newspaper readership and circulation, the survey gets to grips with what is really going on.
For local community newspapers, the data has remained stable with almost 70% of decision makers reading their relevant local newspaper every week. In contrast most daily and weekly newspapers are seeing a decline in readership penetration. Since the last survey in 2010, daily and weekend readership has declined 12% across trended similar areas.
This mimics circulation performance seen in the ABC where declines of 11% overall were experienced for the same titles over the same period. VFD / ABC circulation has grown slightly for local free and sold newspapers. This would suggest that the ROOTS 2013 survey is reflecting reality and offering real evidence for marketers, media planners and advertisers to unpack and analyse strategically.
But averages can be deceptive; the more important figures are all in the detail.
For example, in Sandton Johannesburg, the readership of The Star has dropped dramatically from 33% in 2010 to 11% in 2013 – that’s almost by 70%! The Sunday Times has declined by close to 50% from 36% to 19% in the same area. Other urban areas are showing a similar trend. In the Pinetown Highway area in KZN, the Daily News’ readership has dropped from 30% in 2010 to 19% in 2013 (-37%) and the Sunday Tribune from 38% to 36%. In one of South Africa’s major growing urban areas, Milnerton, Big Bay, Parklands areas, Western Cape, The Argus has dropped from 20% in 2010 to 8% in 2013.
The current survey has seen some major changes in the profiles of South African communities and without this insight local newspapers could cater for the wrong markets. This information is vital, as any change has the potential to affect the readership of any newspaper. For example, between ROOTS 2007 and 2010, Vereeniging shifted from being a white, Afrikaans speaking community to a predominantly black, English speaking community.
The readership of the Vereeniging Ster dropped from 61% to 46%. As a result, significant changes were made to both the editorial content and the distribution of the newspaper. The latest survey shows that these changes were successful with the Vaal local paper enjoying a readership of 64% in that community – a growth of almost 40%. During this period, the best read daily newspaper; The Daily Sun has dropped from 28% readership in 2007 to 17% in 2013 showing that as soon as a true local newspaper gets in touch with its community regardless of race, culture, or affluence influences, the community takes on the relevant content.
The best read daily newspaper in Pretoria North is Beeld with a reach of 22%. However, the best read weekly/weekend newspaper has changed from being Rapport in 2010 with a reach of 18% to the Sunday Times, reaching 16% of Purchase Decision Makers (PDM’s) in that area. Once Pretoria North was a stronghold for Afrikaans press but this is no longer the case. The underlying demographics shifts are resulting in the fragmentation of reach in daily and weekend press for this area. Since brands and retail are available locally, area by area, reach becomes crucial in advertising investment.
The survey has also revealed interesting technology trends. For instance, in Vereeniging in the Vaal, 19% of the Purchase Decision Makers (PDM’s) interviewed access the Internet weekly or more often against 43% of PDM’s in Knysna (Garden Route); 7% of those interviewed in Chiawelo (Soweto); 46% in Sea Point and 47% in Berea in Durban.
The survey also showed that of those interviewed, 21% in Berea and Knysna, 45% in Sea Point; 1% in Chiawelo and 10% in Vereeniging have laptops or notebooks in the home.
When it comes to cellphone useage, MTN has the lions share in Vereeniging, Berea and Chiawelo with 47%, 48% and 60% respectively with PDM’s in these communities favouring this service provider, while 55% of Camps Bay and 58% of Knysna PDM’s go with Vodacom.
Employment stats are also surveyed, showing that 66% of Berea PDM’s, 62% in Vereeniging 59% in Sea Point, 56% in Knysna and 44% in Chiawelo are formallyemployed. When comparing monthly Household Income (HHI) in these areas the trend is similar when comparing the R12 000 – R24 999 per month salary brackets: 33% of PDMs in Berea; 35% in Vereeniging; 32% in Sea Point; 29% in Knysna and just 9% in Chiawelo fall within this bracket.
Jacqui Bessinger is project head of the ROOTS 2013 survey.
ROOTS 2013 is a product of Caxton Publishers & Printers with a latest sample size of 28 500. Research is conducted and verified through TNS Research Surveys.