READERSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS CLIMBS AMONGST ASIA’S BUSINESS ELITE
Internet media usage increases but not at expense of print
Readership of international business publications is on the rise, according to the latest results of Ipsos Media’s ABRS, the biennial survey of the continent’s top business executives’ media habits, consumption and buying power, now in its twentieth year.
Overall readership was up for the first time in several years, with readership of any international weekly increasing by three percentage points on 2004, to 42 per cent, and overall international readership increasing by one point to 62 per cent. Titles showing significant growth include: The Economist, up five percentage points to 15 per cent; The Wall Street Journal Asia, up four percentage points to 20 per cent; and Forbes, up three points to 13 per cent.
The survey, which has been extended to measure a broader range of media, including TV and internet use, and gather more qualitative information, paints a picture of knowledge-hungry senior executives who are internet-savvy, with nearly a third buying online; risk takers, preferring job satisfaction over job security; and early adopters of business and consumer technology.
Hand in hand with increased readership figures, comes the news that Asia’s business elite is also turning to the internet more than ever before in its media consumption. However, despite the obvious importance of the internet to these executives and the fact that it is changing the way some gather business news - 37 per cent say it has changed the way they use publications - it is clear that this is still leaving plenty of room for more traditional media consumption.
While nearly three quarters, 74 per cent, of the executives questioned agree that the internet is good for business news updates, up three percentage points since 2004, and 61 per cent spend more time reading business information on the internet now than in the past; online information is still seen as a supplement to rather than replacement for printed media.
Over seven in ten, 71 per cent, of Asian executives believe a website is an important part of a business publication’s overall offering; and, continuing to build a picture of the internet as complimentary to information gathered elsewhere, over half, 57 per cent, say they’d follow up a story they’d read in print online. And with less than half of the audience using a business publication’s website as part of their daily routine, 47 per cent, there is a real opportunity for publishing houses to build on this consumption.
Simon Staplehurst, associate director at Ipsos MORI Media, commented:
“What we are seeing is not the simple exchange of one medium for another but, with usage and readership up across the board, a desire for richer sources of knowledge and business information drawn from both print and online. The challenge for publishers is to present the right material in the right format and to continue to make news and information compelling on an instant by instant, day by day, weekly and monthly basis. Each channel must be seen to add value.”
An international perspective
Reflecting, perhaps, the increased appetite for international media, high level executives across Asia are more likely than not to be involved in international business, with just over half working for companies that have international operations outside their country of residence and many personally involved in key international areas such as purchasing (25 per cent), international strategy (20 per cent), and sales or marketing (18 per cent).
English remains the common language for business amongst Asian executives, with 83 per cent employing it regularly; this is followed by Chinese, which is used by 40 per cent of the audience. With the business climate as such, there is recognition for the importance of gaining an international perspective both on business and, more broadly, on current affairs, even amongst those not directly involved in international business. Over three quarters, 77 per cent, of executives surveyed claimed having an international perspective was important to them.
In terms of where they specifically turn to, the Wall Street Journal Asia gets the vote for business reading, used by 13 per cent in this capacity; while the weeklies – Newsweek and Time – split the lead for current affairs, with 10 per cent each. The most popular international business programmes on TV, measured for the first time, are CNN Today, viewed by 34 per cent, and BBC World News, which attracts nearly a quarter, 23 per cent, of this group.
High-level Asian executives are also frequent international travellers especially for business but also for personal reasons, with nearly half, 47 per cent, having taken six or more trips in the past year. Interestingly, despite the seniority of the audience, not all are prepared to pay out for business or first class – with just over half not using business / first as their class of choice. Travel to Hong Kong has increased, year on year, 28 per cent compared to 25 per cent, while the numbers visiting North America have seen a slight decline, 20 per cent, compared to 23 per cent.
Technophiles care more for quality than brand
As one might expect, Asian business executives keep a firm finger on the pulse of technological progress, with 73 per cent seeing it as vital to the success of their business. In a positive endorsement for mobile phone developers, over half, 54 per cent, had the latest WAP / GPRS / MM messaging technology on their phones at the time the survey was conducted; similar numbers own portable laptops or notebook computers, 53 per cent.
The list of their possessions reads like an upmarket shopping catalogue; 21 per cent have LCD televisions for example, 7 per cent own a blackberry, and nearly a third, 29 per cent, own an iPod or MP3 player. Significantly more executives own their own car rather than having a company one, 44 per cent versus 26 per cent. Interestingly, while this group is happy to pay more for quality, many are less concerned with purchasing ‘well-known brands’. While 46 per cent prefer to buy well-known brands, over one in three, 35 per cent, do not. And with 58 per cent getting purchasing ideas from publications, there is a real opportunity for niche, underdeveloped brands to reach this elite group.
Work isn’t everything
Despite painting a picture of hardworking business enthusiasts – 72 per cent prefer to be the leader of a group - work-life balance is also a priority for these executives, with the majority, 68 per cent, making sure work doesn’t stop them spending time with their friends and family.
This penchant for enjoying their leisure time is also evidenced in the way Asian business leaders spend their money. Nearly a quarter, 23 per cent, enjoy sports club memberships and about a fifth, 18 per cent, are members of a golf club. Nearly a third, 31 per cent, have taken a holiday in the last twelve months that cost US$1,500-2,999 per person, while 13 per cent have taken one costing US$3,000 or more per person.
Simon Staplehurst, associate director at Ipsos MORI Media, comments:
“With work-life balance an oft-quoted buzz word in the UK, it’s interesting to see that Asian business executives seem to get the balance right. From an advertiser’s point of view, the results position these executives strongly both as key business purchasers and big consumer spenders.”
For further information or a copy of the report, interested parties should contact Simon on 0208 861 8167 or email
. The results of the first ever BRS survey in North America will be released by Ipsos Media in May this year