Blog Post

Print and Paper Packs a Punch in a Digital World

(Washington DC, USA, Oct. 3, 2017) 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 e.g. books, magazines, news, etc. 72% of global respondents prefer printed books, compared to only 9% preferring e-books. Significant country differences were also identified: in Germany, 75% of consumers prefer a printed newspaper, but in Spain, only 42%.
Not only is there a global preference for print, there is also greater trust in print. 76% of all respondents believe “fake news” is a worrying trend and only 24% trust the news stories they read on social media. In addition, 63% 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. 68% of global respondents say they don’t pay attention to online ads and 62% find them annoying and usually not relevant. 57% of global respondents do their best to block or avoid online ads.
Despite the shift towards receiving digital communications, 89% 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% 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% 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. 71% are concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged and 73% 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.
Key Findings from Around the Globe:
Reading preferences

France: 85% would rather read a book in print
UK: 78% prefer printed magazines
Germany: 75% prefer printed newspapers
Australia: 63% prefer to shop with printed catalogues
Brazil: 61% prefer their energy and utility bills in print
Reading habits
Germany: 67% read a printed newspaper at least once a week
U.S.: 63% read addressed advertising mail at least once a week
Italy: 57% read a printed magazine at least once a week
Spain: 56% read a printed book at least once a week
Australia: 54% browse and shop for products using a printed catalogue weekly
France: 35% never read marketing emails
Trusted news
South Africa: 87% think fake news is a worrying trend
France: 74% would be very concerned if printed newspapers were to disappear
U.S.: 71% believe reading news in a printed newspaper provides a deep understanding of the story
France: 62% trust the news stories in printed newspapers
New Zealand: Only 17% trust the news stories they read on social media
Digital overload
France: 79% think it’s important to “switch off” and enjoy printed books and magazines
U.S.: 73% believe reading a printed magazine is more enjoyable than reading a magazine on an electronic device
UK: 72% believe reading a printed book is more enjoyable than reading a book on an electronic device
Brazil: 67% believe they spend too much time on electronic devices
Spain: 60% are concerned the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health
Advertising preferences
UK: 78% don’t pay attention to most online ads
Australia: 66% can’t remember the last time they willingly clicked an online ad
Germany: 64% find online advertisements annoying and usually not relevant
U.S.: 54% are more likely to take action after seeing an ad in a printed newspaper or magazine than if they saw the same ad online
The drive to digital
South Africa: 93% believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications from financial organizations and service providers
UK: 84% 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% believe they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills or statements
Spain: 79% are increasingly concerned their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged
France: 74% find it easier to track expenses and manage finances when it is printed on paper
Two Sides is 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. Our 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. For more information please visit: www.twosidesna.org (Source: Two Sides)

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