The overall use of printed ag magazines and newspaper by farmers and ranchers in general can safely be characterized as “strong.” When one considers that print is facing challenges in other markets, it’s almost remarkable to see how print is holding so well in agriculture.
This observation is based on the 2014 Media Channel Study conducted by Readex Research on behalf of the ABM Agri Media Council. This is the third wave of the study, and as such, trends are beginning to emerge. The basic trend, that print in ag remains strong, and that digital media channels are emerging in importance as well, is very clear. When looking at “weekly usage” measures over the three survey waves, that data actually point to an incredible appetite for information and knowledge across the consumer board. Further, when we break out survey data by age, we see what some might think are surprising numbers.
The study data has been analyzed using three overarching age categories, and “younger” operators have consistently been classified as those less than 45 years of age. When answering the question, “How often do you usually read, view, visit, attend, or use the following types of agricultural media or information sources?” 81% of ALL respondents indicated using printed ag magazines and newspapers on a weekly basis. In 2012, the percentage was 82% — no significant difference. When we look at the answer to this same question based on the younger operator, 85% indicated weekly usage of these printed products and that is actually a slight increase from the 2012 measure of 81%.
Further evidence of the current power of print comes through a look at where younger operators turn to first about information new agricultural products, equipment, services, or suppliers. 74% turn to printed ag magazines and newspapers first, followed up by the dealer and retailer.
As I have said in presentations covering these survey data points, print in ag is a long-lasting, trusted friend that crosses the generations. While digital is gaining ground in usage and is a compliment to traditional channels, there is nothing to suggest that usage of and engagement with print is going to change any time soon.
Jack Semler is president and CEO of Readex Research. Readex Research is a full-service research firm with a specialty in self-administered surveys, including both online and mail, working for customers in the U.S., Canada and Europe. This year, the company will complete over 650 projects for magazine publishers, association executives and corporate clients.