There is no doubt the news media industry is experiencing shifts and challenges with print subscription growth. But it’s a mistake to underestimate peoples’ desire for a credible source of news and information — and their willingness to pay for it.

I was reminded of this recently when we launched a small marketing campaign promoting the replica edition (ePaper) of the Toronto Star.

Like many newspapers, the Star offers a replica edition of the printed newspaper. Over the years, we’ve done limited promotion of our replica edition, offering it primarily as a free, value-added service for our print subscribers.

More readers than expected signed up for the C$12.96 monthly digital replica subscription package when presented in a marketing offer.
More readers than expected signed up for the C$12.96 monthly digital replica subscription package when presented in a marketing offer.

We recently began promoting the replica as a stand-alone subscription offer. The offer was C$12.96 plus tax for a one-month, seven-days-a-week subscription.

I’m well aware that promoting a replica subscription is nothing new or innovative. But I bring it up to share a lesson I learned about making assumptions about what consumers want and what they value.

When we added this subscription option on our Web site, my sales expectations were on the low end. I assumed if print subscriptions were challenged, the replica would be too. In reality, though, despite very little marketing, we had a steady stream of consumers choosing to subscribe to the replica-only subscription offer.

Why? It’s simple: Subscribers wanted a credible source of news and information, and the replica provided a format that suited their lifestyle.

The key takeaway from this experience really isn’t about replica subscriptions. It’s simply a reminder that consumers value a credible news source and will pay for it. As the Satisfying Audiences blog description affirms, it’s up to us to identify the emerging linkages between content, audiences, and platforms.