A new survey into the preferences of consumers for printed versus digital communications has been published today by ‘Two Sides’; the global initiative which addresses the misconceptions of paper use as a communications medium. The survey, which was commissioned by Two Sides and undertaken by international research company Toluna, sought the opinions and preferences of 500 consumers in the UK and 1,000 in the US on a number of issues relating to the switch from paper-based to digital media.
Results from the UK-based consumer research highlighted that 84% of respondents understood, retained or used information that had been printed and read on paper much better than information received on a digital device while 83% stated a clear preference for reading print on paper for more complex topics. The survey also revealed 79% found printed media more relaxing to read, while 60% of mobile/smart phone users (rising to 71% amongst the 18 – 24 year olds) were concerned about how these devices were damaging their health (eye strain, headaches, insomnia). Overall, the survey reported that 79% of respondents preferred to read print on paper when given the choice.
“The results of the UK survey have lessons for all those who choose the way in which information is distributed, particularly for advertisers, marketers and educators who need to understand how information is being delivered, received, processed and retained,” explains Martyn Eustace, Director of Two Sides. “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.”
Eustace continues, “As the world of communication becomes increasing digital, books, magazines and other forms of communication are increasingly consumed on screen. There have been many studies to try and find out if people actually prefer to read digitally distributed information, or whether the convenience and immediacy of digital communication is forcing a change of habits. Our latest survey specifically explores how consumers feel about this development and reveals that print and paper is still preferred by many who also have concerns for learning and literacy in an increasingly digital world.”
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,” concludes Eustace.
The full survey, including the US results, can be downloaded from: http://www.twosides.info/Literacy-and-Learning-2015