Only a third of South Africans have read a newspaper or magazine in the past month. That was one of the print findings to emerge from the Establishment Survey (ES).
While this may seem bad for print, Peter Langschmidt of the Publisher Research Council (PRC) says the research shows that this segment are the ones that really matter.
Television and radio are the mass media in South Africa reaching over 90% of South Africa’s population in a week. This is compared to 36% who read, clearly not the majority. “The majority of television and radio consumers are at the bottom end of the SEM scale. At the top end, where the money and adspend is, is where reading predominates… if you read you’re rich and smart,” Langschmidt says.
The Socio-Economic Measures (SEMs) were introduced with the ES to measure living standards, and are a replacement for AMPS.
Other characteristics included in the ES research include dwelling type and income. “No matter what dwelling you live in, from bottom end huts to suburban houses, you are 50% richer than your fellow compatriots who don’t read. It is a state of wallet and a state of mind. Readers are smarter, early adopters and are influencers, the movers and shakers of brands and the economy,” Langschmidt explains.
“The difference between the 90% reach you are getting on radio and television and the 36% on reading is all that is going through the bottom and lower middle end who can’t afford anything. The top end, where reading takes place, has most of the money, plus it’s way more expensive to reach them, so they take over 80% of adspend.”
He summarises. “When did you listen to matric? When did you watch university? People read when they want to remember things, that’s how we all have studied our whole lives and the same goes for brand recall. The best way to pin down TV’s fleeting image is through the written word”.
The payoff line that is being used for this research and all reading is ‘read to remember’. Langschmidt admits that television and radio are excellent for entertainment purposes but suggests, “When you want to learn and remember things and you want to read it over and over again and understand it and engage at your own pace, that’s where reading comes into its own, because it’s the only medium where everyone, and not just a few top end PVR elites, can stop and start their media consumption at any time and place and repeatedly.”
Higher engagement and attention
Along with the ES, the PRC also commissioned TNS Kantar to do independent media engagement research in metro areas. This led to new insights on other metrics apart from just the numbers, like attention to and recall of advertising in each medium. This research showed that readers concentrate and focus their attention far better than radio or outdoor consumers.
“When you’re reading it’s hard to do anything else at the same time, so over 50% of readers are not doing anything else while reading, whereas with radio and outdoor only 18% are not doing anything else; 78% are focusing on eating, travelling, doing housework, so how much attention are they going to pay to your advert?”
The research also created a new consumer category called Influencers. “These are the people who count more than others and can make a difference to the success or failure of your brand,” he says. “They are early adopters, primary decision makers on purchase choices, they share information, they comment on social media, people ask them for advice, they make business decisions, and there are far more influencers among readers than non-readers.”
Synergy between Reading and Television
Langschmidt admits that print can’t compete head on with television because it is so dominant in the South African market, but is astounded why advertisers would use another more expensive broadcast medium (radio) alongside television. He has compelling arguments of why reading is best suited to be used in conjunction with TV.
“Television is our friend. No single medium can compete with television in South Africa; it dominates because it is very powerful, so our argument is collaboration with television. It’s not instead of, it’s in conjunction with. We’re saying complement TV with the written word”.
To clarify, it is reading (words no matter what platform they are on, including printed copy and online), as opposed to readership (which is ink on fingers). “It’s been proved worldwide that two or three media types are better than one and TV and print is a lot better than TV and radio so synergise and synergise with print,” he adds.
Complementary ends of the purchase funnel
Langschmidt also addressed the role of reading in the traditional awareness to purchase funnel model. Due to their transitory nature “television, radio and outdoor are best suited to create awareness, they can’t do much more and they’re at the wide end of the funnel to emotionally edge people into the funnel to begin their purchase journey. But as one moves closer to decision making, one often needs more information, more detail and complementary rational information, it is here where reading is unsurpassed at knowledge transfer. In this case the web with search and two way communication”.
Reading’s rational reinforcement at the sharp end of the funnel is a perfect complementary partnership with television’s emotional appeal, according to Langschmidt. “We’re saying if you’re going to partner with television, why partner with another broadcast medium that’s more expensive and hasn’t got even half the power. The written word is the perfect foil for television awareness and recall and ROI will be way higher.”
The next step for the PRC is recall studies, offering 20 free ones to any online advertiser, using the latest Nielsen DAR methodology. Langschmidt says, “Why would we pay for the research if we weren’t sure that reading works best with TV?”
Follow Michael Bratt on Twitter @MichaelBratt8