EUROPE: Tuning in to the media savvy

The explosion of media channels across Europe has made targeting consumers difficult because they have become a lot more discriminating.

Across Europe, the increasing number of communication channels has given rise to a fragmented, technology-savvy and information-saturated media consumer market. This is one of the few coherent trends which can be deduced from the increasingly complex European media map drawn in research by The Media Edge.

Ironically, the new media channels have put consumers in charge of the communication channel, with the power to block out all that they regard as irrelevant. For example, digital technology, such as TiVo and Interactive TV, has given consumers more control of what, when, and how they watch television. Marketers now face the challenge of finding new ways to reach consumers.

According to The Media Edge, the typical European consumer is not only exposed to communication channels from mobile, to satellite and cable, to Internet, but also actively consumes more media – traditional and new – than ever before.

The British, who watch an average of 3.5 hours of television every day, have increased their TV consumption by six per cent over the past ten years.

The “telly addicts” of Europe are the Italians and Spanish, who watch an average of over four hours of TV a day. Their consumption has increased 32 per cent and nine per cent respectively over the past ten years.

Austrians watch an average of just over 2.5 hours per day. The Finns watch 64 per cent more TV a day than they did ten years ago. But like the Austrians, they spend the least amount of time watching TV – just over 2.5 hours a day. But the Finns spend more time surfing the Net: Finland has one of Europe’s highest Internet penetration figures – 53 per cent of the population are connected to the Net.

The most frequent Internet users are in the northern half of Europe – Sweden (where 65 per cent of the population use the Net), Norway (59 per cent) and Denmark (54 per cent). High usage is reported in Switzerland (49 per cent), Netherlands (48 per cent), UK (46 per cent), Austria (40 per cent) and Germany (34 per cent). Internet usage lags behind in Spain (12 per cent) and Portugal (11 per cent).

Although Europe is a continent of TV lovers, just over half (51 per cent) have access to non-terrestrial TV in their homes. The highest users are in the Netherlands, where almost everyone (98 per cent) has access to either satellite (five per cent) or cable (93 per cent). Italy has the lowest penetration of cable and satellite, with fewer than one in ten people using either.

Countries considerably behind with access to non-terrestrial TV include the UK (33 per cent), the Czech Republic (32 per cent), Portugal (29 per cent), France (28 per cent) and Spain (16 per cent).

The study also shows a clear divide in Europe’s newspaper readership. National newspapers are experiencing a healthy growth in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. But in the UK there has been a dramatic fall in the number of papers being read – from almost 41 copies to just over 31 per 100 people.

Women’s monthly and weekly magazines have also experienced mixed fortunes in Europe.

The Dutch are keen consumers of women’s magazines – both weeklies and monthlies – and the UK has the second largest market for monthly magazine readership, although this has declined from 14 to ten copies per 100 people. The monthly magazines market has grown considerably over the past ten years in Italy, Spain and Portugal, although there are still fewer than ten copies bought for every 100 people.

The Germans read the most women’s weeklies – 19 copies are sold for every 100 people. The

Dutch are close behind with 17, then the British, with 12 copies per 100. The biggest drop has been in Switzerland (from 25 to six), Austria (14 to three) and Belgium (11 to five). Magazine readership numbers have grown in Spain and Portugal- from three copies per 100 people to seven and from five to seven respectively.

The Dutch are also the most avid consumers of specialist/hobby titles (49 per 100 people). The Austrians come a close second with 44 copies per 100 people. But the UK market has experienced the most dramatic growth, with sales of specialist magazines increasing from just over eight copies per 100 people in 1989, to nearly 22 copies per 100 people in 1999.

Switzerland has experienced the biggest decline, from 32 copies per 100 in 1989 to four in 1999.

Fifteen out of every 100 Europeans buy a TV guide of some sort. The Dutch are the most prolific buyers, with 31 per 100 people buying guides.

Close behind are the Germans, with 26 copies per 100; the Belgians, with 20 copies; and the French, with 19 copies. In the UK, an average of 16 out of every 100 people buy a TV guide. Such varying media consumption trends in Europe pose a major challenge to European media marketers.

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