Understanding what consumers are trying to accomplish with the news–not just where they go to get it–sets the table for innovating content, delivery, timing, digital and print channels and other aspects of the news business.
Our recent new product development work with two nationally prominent publishers underscores the urgency with which newspapers are scrambling to retool for the digital news world. Consumers are migrating to online news sources in greater numbers.
Readers are customizing their online news content, even creating it, and paying less for it. And there’s a wider spectrum of consumer expectations and behaviors with regard to news today than before.
Perhaps the most valuable insight we can impart to newspapers is that this migration is so broad and rapid, that many conventional approaches to understanding readers are rendered obsolete. Market share and other behavioral data will only tell you what you already know.
The real pay dirt is understanding why consumers are changing. Once you know what people are trying to accomplish with their news, you can anticipate where they’re going…and that is essential for “skating where the puck will be” in the news business.
To understand why consumers’ behavior around news is changing, we have to acknowledge that the news audience consists of people, not readers. Their lives involve touch points with people, products and events outside the news, but which are often influenced by it. Understanding how people use the news in their lives will guide news professionals to the what, where, why, when and how of innovating their products.
We’re on the forefront of customer experience research methods that unearth these insights–mental models and persona development among them. More important, we feel a kindred connection to the editors and reporters we’ve met. They, like us, are driven to create understanding where it hadn’t existed before. And that’s critical to improving our quality of life.
Jason M. Sherman is president of Whyze Group, a customer experience research and innovation firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Whyze Group was founded in 2001 and has worked with more than thirty Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industry sectors. You can reach Jason at (440) 785-0547 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add comment July 23rd, 2009