A year later: time for financial brands to capitalise on the future of print media

Mike Richards

One year on from the first lockdown, sentiment about savings and investment has changed, as have media habits. Carrying on from the pieces we’ve written about people reverting to quality journalism during times of uncertainty, we are looking, as the light at the end of the tunnel slowly is revealed, at what people’s habits might be.

Future Publishing, who recently bought the Time Inc media franchise including Country Life, Ideal Home and fifty-odd other titles, produced a report from research of its readers.

One in five (20%) had saved a lot of money, while two in five (41%) had saved some money. With lower balances on credit cards there was a sense that 25% of these savings will be spent once lockdown is eased even more.

This means 75% won’t be spent. Our clients, most of whom are investment managers, will be looking to capture some of that. The firm’s research also went on to state that its readers trust ‘reliable’ websites. Readers will visit the sites of companies they have heard of for a start then.

If you did your branding right and care about the end consumer, this moment could be a great opportunity to cash in on the marketing investment you’ve already made.

The question for advertising and PR media planners alike then will be: where to promote our clients’ products? There are some interesting options as media firms beat print and online expectations.

Dennis Publishing, publishers of Money Week and The Week, undertook some reader research in May 2020 which showed that a third (33%) of their readers wanted to read more print, 84% wanted to read more news apps and one in three (29%) wanted to new or forgotten news outlets.

In March 2021, this certainly bore fruit for Dennis as Money Week’s circulation rose by 17% year-on-year.

With less commuting and possibly more leisure time available, the FT Weekend edition has, since February 2020, seen its circulation rise 18%. Also within the FT stable is 160-year-old weekly Investors Chronicle, which has also seen its circulation rise (although it has always tended to do this during rises in the Stock Market).

Results from the Telegraph Media Group are largely in-line with other UK national press media: its newsstand sales have fallen off, but subscriptions have more than made up for this. In February 2021 it reported a combination of print and digital newspaper sales of over 600,000 – significant year-on-year increases.

Print copies of The Times dropped in March 2020 but recovered during the year, particularly in September, when live sport was on the increase, but also helped by an increase of home delivery and use of independent newsagents (as opposed to vendors at transport hubs).

The story, as we’ve demonstrated before, is similar in Europe, where the established and respected media outlets have benefited from greater patronage.

In Italy, Il Sole 24 Ore has had a 180% increase in its page traffic year-on-year.

Les Echos and Le Point in France have seen 2.1% and 4.5% increases in their print circulation over the same time frame (Les Echos’s circulation is up 11% over the past decade).

In Germany, Handelsblatt’s print circulation is up 2%; Wirtschaftswoche has seen a 7.5% in subs and 26.5% increase in newsstand sales and Die Zeit continues to grow with an annual increase of 15.4%, the highest its circulation has been since its launch in 1946.