Kleine Zeitung uses “future journalism,” regionality to guide digital repositioning

By Andrea Rachbauer

Kleine Zeitung

Graz, Steiermark, Austria


For decades, Kleine Zeitung successfully pursued a strategy of consistent market skimming on the reader and advertising market with its print edition. And yet, the creeping relevance of the printed daily newspaper was perceptible in many ways, especially among young sections 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. Systematic and evidence-based processes, technology, organisation, personnel, and products were developed, which this strategic realignment of Kleine Zeitung demands.

This repositioning strategy is part of a larger goal to raise new customer acquisition and digital platform circulation revenues.
This repositioning strategy is part of a larger goal to raise new customer acquisition and digital platform circulation revenues.

The 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, and it 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 to support this strategic repositioning and its associated goals with the brand management. A visual brand refresh would fall short; the challenges are greater and more profound. The target group of 35- to 55-year-old people — the focus of new customer acquisition for Kleine Zeitung’s digital subscriptions — often no longer have a connection to the print edition of Kleine Zeitung. This offered a product experience that could prove our attitude and standard as a newspaper brand.

We formulated a central thesis as the basis for this brand repositioning: To create orientation both internally and externally, we need an overarching leitmotif for the brand and a common understanding of how this translates into attitude and daily actions. It’s a kind of North Star for Kleine Zeitung and a focus on its 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 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.

What we need to establish at Kleine Zeitung is “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 highlights the ability to be a regional daily newspaper that works in the service of the public. In other words, it is independent — for social solidarity, for public transparency, and for the collective future.

Digitally and qualitatively, these are some of the characteristics of this model:

  • We write courageous stories that make opportunities for the region visible.
  • We show the transformation of the region and provide orientation.
  • We also translate the relevance of world news into readers’ very personal perspectives.
  • We cultivate social dialogue for enriching together.
  • We provide impulses 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 principles for which Kleine Zeitung is loved by its readers and employees, and it provides a relevant positioning for new customer acquisition.

The ability of this repositioning of the Kleine Zeitung brand to attract new customers was also empirically accompanied and verified as part of the concept development. For this purpose, a behavioural economics approach was chosen that empirically validated the new positioning concept both for the overall population and in the focused target group.

About Andrea Rachbauer

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