Why print continues to live on

The printed word carries as much weight today as it did before. Not only is it a powerful medium to express thoughts and ideas but it is also a trusted medium in an era rife with fake news. The research points to the fact that print has a very valid role to play in today’s world, as well as the future.

This is the view of Brandon de Kock, director at WhyFive, who recently spoke at a Novus Holdings event. Novus Holdings is South Africa’s leading commercial printing and manufacturing company.‘We simply need to start telling the glass-half-full-story about it.’De Kock said that there is much evidence that consumers are still spending on print. The PWC Entertainment & Media Outlook 2017-2021 report indicates that South African consumers spent R11,5 billion on newspapers, magazines and books in 2017, which he believes is a large amount, as it represents 8 per cent of the total revenue that South Africa’s entertainment and media (E&M) industry collected in 2016.

This dispels the much publicised myth that ‘print is dead’.

‘Our research shows that 88 per cent of consumers still read magazines regularly and 65 per cent still buy magazines – this hasn’t changed much since 2014. However, changing times mean that people buy magazines less frequently and pass them on more regularly, which is a challenge for publishers who built their models on regular monthly purchasing,’ said de Kock. In addition, the BrandMapp 2017 survey of more than 28 000 South Africans showed that South Africans put reading in third place behind music and movies as their favourite activities.

‘This is higher than travel, cooking and dining out by some margin. The survey revealed that 85 per cent of middle-class South Africans buy printed books. If you combine 2016, 2015 and 2014, without school and academic publications, South Africans bought more than R4 billion worth of books,’ said de Kock. He argued that despite traditional newspapers being an increasingly hard sell in a digital world, 77 per cent of consumers say they regularly read local freesheets that connect them with their communities. Peter Metcalfe Group Executive: Sales and Marketing Novus Holdings, concurred with these findings, saying that the printed medium is still a primary means for retailers to communicate promotional activity to their audiences.

‘Our retail clients have seen good results from targeting their audiences through weekly and monthly inserts. In the 2018 financial year Novus Print’s biggest revenue contributor was from retail inserts and catalogues at 28,3 per cent,’ said Metcalfe.‘This demonstrates that we need to start changing the narrative when it comes to print, particularly when it comes to the advertiser funding that is needed to bridge the gap between where print media is now and where it will end up in the future,’ said de Kock.

He added that there is growing evidence that, because humans anchor memory and emotion to physical structures, printed material is an essential building block to having a literate nation. ‘Without ink and paper, words and pictures, we will be considerably less educated and our country will be infinitely poorer. Print isn’t about weekly circulation or newsstands: it’s about the future of our country and the ability of our nation to achieve their dreams and live better lives,’ concluded de Kock.