Two new surveys by paper pressure group Two Sides have revealed that consumers much prefer print to electronic media when reading news, magazine content, complicated information and bills.
Two Sides commissioned global research company Toluna to conduct two independent surveys, of 500 consumers in the UK and 1,000 in the US, both of which took place in May. Respondents were asked, on a scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree', how much they agreed with a series of statements but were not asked to choose between them or rank their preferences. People in the paper, printing or allied industries were excluded from the survey.
Researchers found that 84% of UK respondents agreed they retained or used information better when they read on paper, 55% agreed with the statement when reading on a computer screen, 41% on an e-reader or tablet and 31% on a mobile or smartphone.
A total of 79% said they felt most relaxed when reading print on paper, 44% agreed they felt most relaxed reading on a computer screen, 33% on e-reader or tablet and 23% on a phone.
People also indicated they preferred to print and read complicated documents, bills and other financial statements and, when prompted, expressed concerns about their health when spending too much time reading on small smartphone screens.
When asked they also agreed they were more relaxed and receptive when they read printed newspapers (69%), printed magazines (66%) on-screen newspapers (25%) or on-screen magazines (18%).
They believed that they took more notice of advertising in printed newspapers (53%) and in posted or door-dropped marketing (39%), compared with advertisements in online newspapers and on other websites, (both 21%).
The number of people that agreed or strongly agreed that they could retain or use information better when they read on paper stayed similarly high across the age spectrum. A total of 91% of those aged 65 or over agreed, while 82% of those aged 18-24 also did so. People who least agreed that print was the easiest medium through which to understand or retain information were aged 35-44, at 78%.
When it came to feeling relaxed when reading on print over on screen, this also increased as respondents got older but only from 77% of those in the youngest age group to 87% in the oldest.
Two Sides director Martyn Eustace said: "While on-screen reading occupies an increasing amount of consumer time, people's preferences are still for a physical reading experience which they believe it to be a 'safe' medium which is more informative, less distracting and less harmful to their health."
“While acceptance of digital media is generally stronger among younger age groups in the survey, there is no evidence to suggest their preferences are significantly different to older ages, with a preference for 'print on paper' still in existence across all ages. This indicates there is still a more fundamental and human way in which we react to the physicality of paper-based print.”
For more see next week's issue of PrintWeek.