City Press and Rapport are widely read Sunday newspapers that reach a wealthy South African market that is not necessarily made up of white native English speakers or ‘Wasps’ (White Anglo Saxon Protestants). These two Ads24 high LSM Sunday titles reach a whopping 4.7 million unduplicated readers through their print and digital properties. Daya Coetzee reports back on the research into Sunday readers.
Ads24, through their innovative trade newspaper The Beat, drew on the editorial skills of the talented editors of Rapport and City Press to provide insights about their readers and the future of the Sunday press. The face of news and newspapers is changing with technological advances, particularly in the high LSM market in South Africa and Ads24 titles have adapted with the times.
Ferial Haffajee, editor of City Press, says, “The barriers to media entry have been smashed and you don’t need more than a smartphone to be a publisher today. It has been a wonderful democratising moment – the media is no longer the oracle of the agenda. Now, Twitter is the most influential agenda setter. This bird and other forms of social media have upended the media as we know it. Twitter (and its sister news apps) are what hourly bulletins used to be. Radio news is what the daily paper used to be and the daily is what the weekly used to be (or that is how dailies should understand themselves, though not many do).
“All of which makes weekly editing tough. All the old formulas have been discarded. City Press is based on investigative and magazine principles… There are ample stories to tell as this democracy is sharpened and harnessed. Investigative and in-depth journalism can drive news agendas and shape information. It is where we as City Press place ourselves and it has made us an influencer, according to Media Tenor. Our social-media feeds are significant additional drivers of audience numbers through the week.”
Ads24 High LSM Sunday package reaches one in five upper LSM’ers (21% of LSM 8-10). This Ads24 combo solutions offering includes City Press, Rapport and their digital properties, including Netwerk24. On average each copy of these Sunday titles is shared by 10.4 people. LSM 8-10 are the most avid readers. Although comprising only one in four South African adults, the LSM 8-10 market comprises a third of almost all of consumer markets.
These high LSM consumers make up the dominant component of certain markets, such as short-term insurance, motor vehicles, medical aid, investment, banking products, car hire, air travel, travel, gadgets, appliances, and sports equipment. They are heavier users of FMCG products, creating sales volumes. They create an aspirant benchmark and are first to buy new goods and services, creating benchmarks to which the middle market aspires. They are employed, well educated, have more buying power, and keep up with technology.
The mall is a playground for these leaders and high LSM Sunday readers have the considerable spending power of R37.8bn per month. They spend R1.7bn on groceries every week and R596.2m is spent on DStv per month; they spent R4.1bn on clothes and shoes in last three months. These savvy Sunday readers spent R88m on a computer or laptop last year.
In the black higher LSM market ties to townships are still strong, with a lot of movement back and forth. Among the high LSM Ads24 readers 64% have a car in their household. This market has the means to plan for the future, 49% have some form of long term insurance. While 15% of the total population has medical insurance, more than double that, 32% of the Ads24 upper LSM Sunday readers have policies. Ads24 discovered that 46% of these readers say newspapers help them decide when taking out car, medical, home, life, or funeral insurance.
“Sunday newspapers in the Media24 stable are uniquely positioned to talk to people who are, by their curious nature, achievers. Millions of them,” says Waldimar Pelser, editor of Rapport, South Africa’s second biggest Sunday title. “At Rapport, we engage our community by fighting for them, by speaking directly to powerful decision-makers, by covering stories nobody else would dare to, and by showing what South Africa looks like in all its dizzying contrasts: the craziness, the courage, the scandal, the talent, the hope.”
Pelser says readers engage with Sunday papers on weekends, away from the office, at the dining room table, on the patio or in the park. “They are relaxed but curious. They have seen (so, so many) Tweets or news reports through the week about Greece, Marikana or Caitlyn Jenner, but until Sunday nobody has distilled it all – especially not Twitter, because Twitter has no filter, no bullshit detector, no editors.
“Every profound tweet is followed by an inane tweet and neither of the two announce themselves. Connecting the dots, going straight to the bottom line, figuring out what it all means: That is our trade and our passion. To separate the wheat from the chaff. To leave out everything you don’t want or need to know and to source, even if it takes days or weeks, exclusive, relevant information, views and perspectives that boost our readers’ already superior ability to say meaningful things in more than 140 characters. That’s what leaders do: They speak in full sentences and influence people by realising what’s going on and communicating this knowledge effectively to peers, teams and markets. We are their partners in making sense of things.”
Ads24 discovered that the research verifies Pelser’s assertion; 63% of Rapport and City Press readers read the Sunday paper to catch up on the week. The respect and voice of authority held by these upmarket Ads24 Sunday newspaper titles filters through to the advertisers. Sixty-three percent of these readers say if a brand is advertised in the newspaper, the product has more credibility and 79% believe that adverts can contain useful and important information. Sunday is the best day of the week for leisurely newspaper consumption and there is more time to read, time to relax and enjoy and a Sunday read. This allows for maximum message absorption.
“We try to fulfil another role for our readers – to be packed to the brim with useful information. Our surveys have indicated our careers pages, stories on personal finance and the opportunity index are among the best read and most popular sections of City Press. This is because our readers are aspirational and are driven to improve their lives. We strive to be their partners in this endeavour and to present something that adds zing to a Sunday,” says Haffejee.
Pelser says it’s not all serious on braai-day. “Let’s be honest on a Sunday, nobody can deal if the diet is too heavy. At lunch the same applies: It can’t be all meat and potatoes, nè. The chef knows and we have learnt: serve up a balanced meal that is way better than anything you had in the week. Meat, for sure! (the heavy stuff: News). Sorry, Noakes, there’s a starch too: Opinion with low GI, that is easy to digest but keeps you feeling satisfied until bed-time. Salad? Of course! Colourful, lighter stories with crutons and cheese that show our communities in all their bold diversity. And most definitely dessert. If Rapport were a dessert, which we are not, we would be a brandy tart: Somewhat traditional, just sweet enough, and certainly with a lekker kick that warms you on the inside.”
Speaking of food, take-aways have become a Friday ritual for the Ads24 high LSM Sunday reader and eating out is no longer a treat, it is a way of life. These thirsty readers drink 17 068 000 fizzy drinks 11 299 000 beers a week. But, having said that they do look after themselves and like to feel at their best, especially in these dry winter months, with 86% using hand and body lotion.
IMAGE: Jan Braai / Braai.com / Braai on roof of the Radium