Planning for the free world | Media Week
* THIS INTERVIEW WITH WILL FIRST APPEARED IN ‘MEDIA WEEK’ *
William Higham, founder of consumer trend analyst Next Big Thing, who also worked with the London Paper on Generation Free, says free is not just about value, but also convenience. He reports: “One thing that came out of the focus groups was the fact that free newspapers are easy to pick up – you don’t have to go into a newsagent.” …
There may be no such thing as a free lunch and, by the same token, there’s probably no such thing as free media – ultimately, somebody always pays.
But try telling that to a new generation of consumers who take it for granted that they don’t have to pay for the media they consume. From free newspapers and magazines on public transport to free music streaming and video-on-demand on the web, the modern consumer can access a wealth of content without paying a penny.
What do media brands have to do to win the attention of Generation Free, the new age of consumers who don’t expect to pay for their information and entertainment?
According to research by thelondonpaper into this so-called “Generation Free” last year, media brands have to work harder to earn consumers’ trust.
Terry Watkins, partner at TWResearch, which collaborated on the study, says: “Media owners no longer ‘own’ their audience – they hold their attention only for as long as they remain relevant.
“Consumers have greater power and shift allegiance quickly. This cultural shift forces media owners to be more reactive, responsive and relevant, and then they face the ultimate challenge – to make their strategy pay.”
William Higham, founder of consumer trend analyst Next Big Thing, who also worked with thelondonpaper on Generation Free, says free is not just about value, but also convenience. He reports: “One thing that came out of the focus groups was the fact that free newspapers are easy to pick up – you don’t have to go into a newsagent.”
Higham believes this desire will only increase in a recession, as consumers shy away from commitments and contracts. But he refutes the idea that the younger generation is disloyal to media brands. “They do feel loyalty in return for being given something,” he says. “If a free newspaper gives consumers useful information, they feel grateful. The rule of thumb is: does it add value?”