March 23, 2015 Last Updated 1:20 pm

Millennials reluctant to pay for newspaper content, says survey from Retale

Only 19% of those 18-34 years olds surveyed say they’ve paid for newspaper content – either print or online – in the last 30 days

Press Release:

CHICAGO, IL – March 23, 2015Retale, a location-based mobile platform connecting shoppers with their favorite local retailers, today announced the results of a commissioned survey that examines present-day newspaper readership, format preferences and attitudes toward paying for content. More than 1,000 adult men and women across the U.S. were polled between February 1-6, 2015.

Millennials Reluctant To Pay For Newspaper Content

Only 19% of millennials (18-34 years old) say they’ve paid for newspaper content – either print or online – in the last 30 days. Among older respondents, the numbers are slightly higher, with 24% of 35-to-54-year-olds and over one-third (34%) of those over 55 saying they’ve paid for newspaper content in the last 30 days.

When asked about print news content, specifically, half (50% of all age groups) are completely unwilling to pay, even when offered several payment options, with millennials the least willing. In fact, when asked to identify the last time they read a print newspaper, either free or purchased, 29% of millennials said that they couldn’t recall because they “never read print newspapers.”

“Millennials are a digital-first audience,” said Pat Dermody, President of Retale. “They’re not consuming print newspaper content in the same way as previous generations. For the industry to adapt, they’ll have to be creative and consider new digital formats to support readership and drive revenue.”

A full look at the findings for print news content are shown in the following chart:


Although millennials are the most reluctant to pay for print newspaper content, the older segments also respond negatively (49% for 35-54 and 47% for 55 and over) to the question. The most popular payment option for both millennials and 35-54 year-olds is the pay-per-issue model, with more than a quarter of each group (26%) favoring it. An annual subscription is only the preferred option for those 55 and over, with 29% choosing it versus just 23% for pay-per-issue.

When asked about their willingness to pay for content from established daily newspapers in a digital format, respondents were even more negative, with 67% of all survey takers unwilling to pay.


Older individuals surveyed – 72% of those 35 and over – are the least likely to want to pay for online access. Millennials are more open to paying, with 27% opting for the “all-you-can-eat” model. Nearly 60% of millennials, however, say that they’re not willing to pay anything for digital newspaper access.

When asked which format they prefer for reading digital newspapers, respondents were given several options – desktop/PC, mobile browser, and mobile app – with preferences as follows:


Among millennials, mobile is the preferred format for digital newspaper readership, while desktops/PCs – typically devices with larger, stationary screens – are preferred by those 35 and over.

Among all survey respondents who choose to get their news digitally, cost (85%), convenience (59%), and more up-to-date content (39%) are cited as key factors. Alternatively, print readers favor the traditional format due to familiarity (49%), because they consider the experience less distracting than a website (37%), for convenience (36%), and the perceived credibility of the content (27%).

For just millennials who prefer print content, credibility (31%) is more important than convenience (26%), while for those 35 and over, convenience (39%) actually trumps credibility (26%).

Deals & Discounts

When asked to identify which format they prefer when receiving and redeeming deals and retail promotions, a fixture of in-print news content, millennials (40%) are the largest group to choose digital formats, while 52% of those 35 and over prefer deals and discounts via print.

“Retail circulars have long been one of the most effective marketing tools in retail marketing,” added Dermody. “However, broader trends in media consumption, with readers migrating from print to digital, can’t be ignored. In digitizing print circulars, retailers can navigate the evolving landscape and preserve a proven marketing strategy. They can also better connect with this new and growing group of mobile, millennial shoppers.”

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