Kleine Zeitung builds digital brand with future journalism focus

By Andrea Rachbauer

Kleine Zeitung

Graz, Steiermark, Austria


For decades, Kleine Zeitung successfully pursued a strategy of consistent market skimming in the reader and advertising areas with its print edition. And yet, the creeping irrelevance of the printed daily newspaper was perceptible in many ways, especially among the younger sect of the population.

To raise new customer acquisition and digital platform circulation revenues to unprecedented levels, Kleine Zeitung embarked on a strategy shift in 2019 from a position of strength with a focus on younger target groups. We developed and adopted systematic and evidence-based processes, technology, organisation, personnel, and products that this strategic realignment of Kleine Zeitung demands.

Focusing on a new audience required Kleine Zeitung to shift its efforts toward regionalism.
Focusing on a new audience required Kleine Zeitung to shift its efforts toward regionalism.

Underlying business model for new customer acquisition is a content strategy optimised for subscription conversions

The focus is on digital editions and, therefore, the further development of the integrated newsroom into a digital newsroom — digital journalism by conviction.

The refocusing ensures the essential rejuvenation of the brand and its users. It also enables the systematic inclusion and conquest of the upcoming generations of readers.

Following this extensive internal change process, it was time to modernise the brand image as well. This helps support this strategic repositioning and its associated goals with the brand management.

Visual brand refresh fell short — the challenges are greater and more profound

The target group of people aged 35-55 years old, who will be the focus of new customer acquisition for Kleine Zeitung’s digital subscriptions in the future, often no longer have a connection to the print edition of the newspaper. They have a slipping product experience, which could impact our attitude and standard as a newspaper brand.

We analysed numerous internal and external data (such as user behaviour, content usage, price acceptance, and subscription motives, etc.) as well as behavioural, value, and media usage studies of younger generations.

From this, we formulated a central thesis as the basis for this brand repositioning: To create orientation internally and externally, we need an overarching leitmotif for the brand and a common understanding of how this translates into attitude and daily actions.

This is a kind of North Star for Kleine Zeitung. A focus on Kleine Zeitung’s greatest strength: regionality, but reinterpreted. After all, in the context of global issues, regionality is a model for the future that can also be looked at in a different forward-focused way — from regionality to a regional future.

Based on this, we have formulated a vision for the Kleine Zeitung brand: We want a region that is attractive, liveable, and fit for the future. We want our home region to lead the way in the competition between regions. That is why we are the newspaper for the future of our regions. We report for the world from the region and for the region from the world.

We need to establish “future journalism” as a new form of regionalism

Future journalism is constructive and fundamentally optimistic. It illuminates the aspects of change in all dimensions of life in (regional) democracy. Future journalism supports the claim of being a regional daily newspaper that works in the service of the public. In other words, independence — for social solidarity, for public transparency, for the collective future.

This is a digital and qualitative commitment:

  • We write courageous stories that make opportunities for the region visible.
  • We show the transformation of the region and provide orientation.
  • We translate the relevance of world news into readers’ very personal perspectives.
  • We cultivate social dialogue for enriching together.
  • We provide insight and launch initiatives for the future viability of the region.
  • Our team represents the diversity of the region.

Future journalism concerns everything that defines a modern newspaper. It stands for the principles for which Kleine Zeitung is loved by its readers and employees, and it provides relevant positioning for new customer acquisition.

The ability to reposition the Kleine Zeitung brand to attract new customers was also empirically accompanied and tested as part of the concept development with the behavioural economics consulting group FehrAdvice. For this purpose, a behavioural economics approach was chosen that empirically validates the new positioning concept both for the basic population and in the focused target group.

About Andrea Rachbauer

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