Pandemic audiences slow to change behaviour in Canada
Just when news leaders thought the news cycle couldn’t get any crazier, it did. And with each twist and turn of 2020, staff scrambled to cover the story of the year. Except in 2020, it wasn’t once a year, it was more like once a week. And those same staff, like Canadians everywhere, were dealing with kids at home, incomes disrupted, and isolation from friends and family.
But Canadians were also trying new things (remember when Robin Hood ran out of their iconic yellow bags?). Did all that craziness actually create a land of opportunity for Canadian media companies?
We wanted to find out, so we conducted a study of news media in Canada. And what we found was that Canadians are a loyal bunch.
News consumption up, sampling – not so much
In the study, 62% of Canadians said they consumed more news – driven in equal parts by national and local news. But while we’re consuming more, we’re sticking by the media brands we used pre-pandemic.
Of those who said they consumed more news, very few – only 17% – said they tried a news source that was new to them. This is in stark contrast to Americans, where the increase of media consumption has driven a considerable amount of media sampling.
So why does this matter? If you’re already number one, you’ve likely seen a nice bump in audience – and your focus has to be on sustaining that audience when the news cycle ebbs or worse yet, when the news cycle creates burn out. If you’re in second or third place, launched a new product or paywall, you want as many “snackers,” as I call them, as possible to sample your wares. Those snackers have to come from a very small subsection of the audience who is open to change – they’re not on a beach waiting for you to arrive. You’re going to have to hunt, work, drive change – that’s the only way you’ll break their existing news habits.
Building brand affinity
This brand loyalty, that is particular to Canada, means marketing off channel is key – even essential – for brands trying to get noticed. And if you’re not already doing that, you better hurry up, as the window of opportunity will close soon.
For new entrants or media organizations in the middle of the pack, the relatively small amount of sampling going on in Canada means you’ve got a steep hill to climb. The good news? While the fight may be tough, it could net some good results.
Of the 17% who said they’d tried a new source for news – more than half said they’d stick with the new source. If you can get noticed now, you can use the current climate to create new, lasting and meaningful relationships with the snackers. You can turn them into lovers of your brand.