Eco-, charity-awareness tied to newspaper readership

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

People who are daily inclined to read newspapers for long periods tend to have a strong sense of charity and environmental awareness, market researcher Video Research Ltd. and advertising agency Dentsu Inc. have said.

While a clear correlation was found for newspaper readers, none was found regarding whether people who watch TV or surf the Internet at great length also have a sense of charity or environmental consciousness, statistics compiled by the two companies shows.

“It’s clear that only newspaper (readers) have this tendency,” said Akira Suzuki, general manager of media communications at Video Research. “We have no idea why. We will look into it.”

Suzuki said the findings came by chance as he and Masaru Ariga, senior manager of media marketing at Dentsu, tried to come up a catchy way to announce the Nov. 18 meeting of the Japan Academy of Advertising in Tokyo.

The two collected data on changes in people’s mentality after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and discovered a linear correlation between newspaper readers, length, and an sense of charity and environmental awareness. They presented their findings at the academy meeting.

They used data from a survey Video Research conducted October last year. In the annual survey, the market researcher asked tens of thousands of people nationwide about a range of topics, including their media preferences and consumption habits.

From questions pertaining to charity and environmental activities, the two selected six for which the number of respondents who said yes increased by the biggest percentage point from 2010 to 2011. The six response choices included: “I tend to be proactive in joining charity activities,” “I am very interested in energy issues” and “I try to buy products made in eco-friendly ways as much as possible.”

Suzuki and Ariga divided respondents into seven groups by the number of the questions they said yes to.

The two put together the data and the length of time the respondents read newspapers, watched TV and browsed the Internet daily, and charted the correlations.

The graph for newspaper readers shows that the more of the six questions the respondents said yes to, the longer they read newspapers, and there was a clear linear correlation between the two. But this was not found for TV viewers and Internet users.

Similarly, the two conducted a survey on the correlation between the level of charity and environmental consciousness and the level of trust in advertising on newspapers, TV and the Internet.

They found that those with higher consciousness tended to give higher evaluations to newspaper advertising, the survey found. They measured the level of trust by the number of “yes” responses regarding advertising in newspapers, TV or the Internet, including if such advertising “lets me understand the contents of goods and services easily,” “lets me understand in detail the quality and specs of goods” and “lets me have trust in advertisers.”

“The fact that the value of newspaper ads extends beyond being a source of information about products and services to creating a positive impact on the evaluation of the companies themselves has implications for the strategic role that newspaper advertising can play in a marketing mix,” the presentation material used by Suzuki and Ariga in the academic meeting said.

“Newspapers are in decline now. The value of newspapers is not properly conveyed to the public. I hope the finding will make them realize the value of newspapers,” Ariga said.