Paper’s status as a trusted and valued means of communication in today’s digital world is highlighted in a recent survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers commissioned by print and paper advocacy organisation Two Sides UK.
The survey also identifies a number of challenges, not least a reduced appetite for paper and print amongst younger generations and a clear preference for digital media for certain applications.
While print was the preferred medium for the recreational reading of magazines (78%), books (73%) and news (62%) amongst all respondents, amongst 18-24 year olds just 35% like to read news in print, with 38% preferring to use a smartphone.
Moreover, people’s preferences don’t necessarily reflect their consumption habits. So, while 62% say they prefer to read news in print, only 29% read a printed newspaper every day, compared to 42% who daily read news on electronic devices.
More than six out of 10 respondents (62%) claim they read fewer printed magazines than they used to; 44% read fewer books; and 75% of 18-24 year olds say they like to get their news online for free.
Amongst all respondents, a computer (desktop or laptop) is the preferred method of reading transactional documents, such as bank statements, energy/utility/phone bills and statements. Printed statements are preferred by 29% of people and a combination of printed and online by 56%.
More than two thirds (69%) believe keeping hard copies of important documents at home is the safest and most secure way of storing information. Roughly the same number (71%) are concerned that personal information held digitally could be hacked, stolen, lost or damaged.
Even though most consumers are happy to receive digital communications, a big majority (88%) want to be able to choose how they receive bills and statements (printed or digital).
Four out of 10 (41%) say they would consider switching supplier if forced to go digital-only; and almost three quarters (73%) believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill.
Publishers will welcome a clear preference for printed books across all age groups, with 72% of consumers saying they find the printed page more enjoyable than electronic alternatives including e-readers (12%) and tablets (7%).
Print aids comprehension, with 63% of respondents believing they gain a deeper understanding of a news story when they read it on the page. UK consumers also find print more trustworthy – just 16% trust news stories found on social media, falling to 4% of over 55s.