Several years ago, the Washington Post convened a series of focus groups to learn why most individuals under the age of 45 did not subscribe to the newspaper – a problem persisting to this day throughout the overwhelmingly print-centric industry.
It’s not that people didn’t like the Post, reported the American Journalism Review in an article describing the research project in 2005. The problem was that the respondents – many of whom happily consumed news on digital devices – drew the line at piles of old newspapers cluttering up their lives. According to a Post executive quoted by the AJR, more than one respondent declared: “I don’t want that hulking thing in my house.”
Although the 50%-plus drop in advertising sales since 2005 involuntarily has slimmed down the Post and most other newspapers, the print product remains broadly unappealing to individuals under 45.
If publishers intend to make good on their long-stated pledge to pivot from print to digital products, it is important for them to understand the profound difference between the consumers they have vs. the consumers they wish they had.