• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Survey finds half of South Africans prefer printed material

Survey finds half of South Africans prefer printed material

…Just under half prefer digital news

Nearly half of South Africans prefer to read printed books and magazines, while around just under half prefer to read news on their computer.

This was a finding of the Sides Trend Tracker survey, a biennial survey into consumer preferences and perceptions of print, paper and paper-based packaging that South Africa participated in.

The global study of 10,050 consumers was commissioned by Two Sides and conducted online by independent research company, Toluna in January 2023.

Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in 16 countries, including Argentina (400), Brazil (1,000), Chile (350), South Africa (500), the US (1,000) and Europe, including Austria (500), Belgium (600), Denmark (500), Finland (350), France (1,000), Germany (1,000), Italy (1,000), Norway (350), Sweden (500) and the UK (1,000).

The survey found that in the blended world of paper and digital media, consumers have varied preferences for what they receive electronically or in “hard copy”.

“The survey revealed that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to print or digital, and there is a place for both,” says Jane Molony, executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA).

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, the shift from paper and print to reading on digital devices, across all categories of communications was real. This included newspapers, magazines, books, catalogues, invoices and statements, and personal health information.

“Despite this surge in online media use, many consumers still value print on paper, especially when reading books and magazines,” says Molony.

Of South African consumers surveyed, 49% prefer to read printed books and magazines, while around 44% prefer to read news on their computer or device. Ironically the same number would be concerned if print newspapers were to disappear.

“This was in line with our own survey that we conducted in 2022, in which 65% of respondents preferred paper over digital when reading for leisure,” adds Molony.

Just less than 25% still get their daily news from newspapers only, while 33% of the participants said they rely on a combination of newspapers and news websites.

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Learning and understanding

The survey also sought opinions on the advantages of reading and learning with paper and print. It revealed that more than half (54%) agreed or strongly agreed that “children and students learn more when reading printed rather than digital books and course materials”, compared to just 17% who disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Some 37% agreed or strongly agreed that they “get a better understanding of the story when reading news in print rather than online”, compared to 29% who disagreed or strongly disagreed.

These results reinforce academic studies that have demonstrated the important role that paper and print have in education and in helping people understand complex information, whether that information is in the form of textbooks or news stories. An article in MIT Technology Review states that “the dangers of relying on technology are also particularly pronounced in literacy education and at early grade levels”. Culled from Bizcommunity