Newspaperswork, the Belgian newspaper publishers’ marketing platform, has recently set up the Consumer Insights Center (CIC).

The CIC is a knowledge centre that will gauge the views of newspaper readers and Internet users on current themes or specific sectors on a regular basis.

What makes the CIC special is that it is a joint initiative of the different newspaper publishers, which have joined forces to position the medium in the market through research.

For the first survey, the CIC has chosen the automotive industry. Historically, this sector is very important for newspapers. In recent years, however, it has been hit hard by the economic crisis, and advertising income has fallen considerably.

The survey looks at the position of the car in the life of Belgian consumers, brand recognition, buying intentions, and consumers’ attitudes to car advertising. The importance, credibility, and call to action of the different media in terms of car advertising are also examined.

The CIC worked with the independent market research firm, AQRate, for the survey. The online interviews were conducted between January 11 and February 3 of this year. A total of 2,510 respondents took part in the study, which was representative of the views of the Belgian over-18 population.

The survey’s approach is also special, in that two different recruitment methods were chosen, via AQRate’s online panel, as well as recruiting ads in the newspapers and on the pubishers’ Web sites. The results are very promising.

The car is still king! More than three-quarters of the participants could not manage without a car. The pinch is being felt economically but, nevertheless, 44% want to buy a new car within the next three years, and 17% even plan to do so within the year.

What do consumers look at when making their choice?

  • Safety: 76% choose a car for its safety.

  • Model: 55% look first at the model, and then at the make.

  • Make: 37% stay loyal to a particular make.

When buying a new car, newspaper readers pay more attention to environmental factors — such as fuel consumption, green character, and equipment — than the average Belgian. These are important purchase criteria that carmakers will need to take even more into account in the future.

The striking impact of car advertising in newspapers. The respondents also were asked to evaluate the different media as information sources for the purchase of a new car.

Newspapers scored remarkably strongly here, particularly in terms of objectivity, call to action, increasing brand recognition, proximity, word of mouth, and establishing a position as opinion leaders.

A positive image of the newspaper also emerges from respondents’ views on car advertising. Newspaper ads are generally seen as highly reliable, credible, informative, and not irritating.

Another striking finding is that, for newspaper readers, car advertisements are significantly more emotionally engaging (nearly 40% versus 14%), more attractive, and inspire more dreams.