Digital communication is making inroads
Consumers around the world are increasingly using digital channels to get news and find information. The outcome: the number of print media users is falling. According to a survey by Deloitte, Germany seems to be bucking the global trend of a decline in print.
Print in 2011
The printing trade has problems, even in Germany. High fixed costs, long update cycles, declining advertising rates, and advancements in many digital fields are slowly driving this media into the ground. The significance of this movement is quite evident in The Death of Print chart showing US data.
There are three major issues:
- The volume of printed products like newspapers and magazines is declining steadily: only 10% of US consumers have a newspaper subscription.
- Similarly, fewer readers are buying news – currently 70% are no longer willing to pay.
- Corporate budgets for print ads are shrinking, having dropped an average of 20% just last year.
Germans are traditionalist print lovers
Typical Germans do not jump on every bandwagon immediately, but instead take their time to assess each innovation and development. This was supported by the Deloitte survey, State of the Media Democracy, which found that in comparison with their international counterparts, Germans are slower in shifting over to digital media. So far only a quarter of them embrace online content from publishers. Although there are alternatives on the Internet, 69% of Germans still prefer their magazines and, just as for newspapers, this trend does not seem to be waning. Of those surveyed, 70% had read a newspaper last year – a much higher figure than in France where only 47% read the papers. This means that Germans are showing greater loyalty to their printed media than readers in other countries, countering the often heard cliché that print has no future.
The purpose defines the channel
The medium preferred by consumers depends heavily on the purpose. Printed products are increasingly shifting away from a platform for news to one for background information. This is because publishers can dig deeper into other facets of an issue and present news from various perspectives. Their success versus other media depends on gaining a good reputation and building trust in print. For quick access, most consumers tend to go digital. In Germany too, the demand for digital communications has grown year-on-year, because of the desire for faster access to information. The more current the news or reports, the more Germans head for digital content.
Success factors for companies
Trust, security, and speed are key success factors for personalized communication with customers. Fast, direct, and brief messages ease the communication between customers and businesses. Hence, digital communication is the right vehicle to intensify contact and enhance loyalty among customers. For example, a message via email, texting, Twitter, or Facebook to confirm a purchase just completed evokes a positive buying experience. Although sending the same message in a letter or notification on paper, or by ePost dropped in the mailbox, or to the customer portal does serve as the obligatory proof, it fails to make use of the opportunity to influence the buyer positively
Swisscom recognized this trend and took appropriate steps to get ready for the future. It put more emphasis on written correspondence via digital communications using texting and emails, in response to the changed behavior of consumers and rising costs for letters. With this new plan for communications, legodo helped chop operating costs by CHF 2 million/annum. The result – customers use less paper for orders and enquiries and benefit from faster response times.
How did this company do it? Read the report on our Swisscom project.