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The key to converting young adults to regular newspaper readers.

WHICH OF THE following is the favorite content of young adult, newspaper readers (18 to 34 years old)?

A. Sports

B. Comics

C. Entertainment

D. Classified

If you looked at Tables A or B before starting to read the actual story (as this writer often does), then you know that Classified is the correct answer. Certainly, more young adults read general news (92%), but it is virtually impossible not to read general news when a copy of a newspaper is picked up to be read.

True, a slightly higher proportion of young adults read entertainment and sports than classified but, relative to the readership of total adults, classified has the higher index of readership, according to Simmons Market Research Bureau's (SMRB) 1993 Study of Media and Markets, as recently reported by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

Table A's second column relates the readership of each section by 18- to 34-year-old adults to the readership of total adults over 18 years old.
18 to 34 YEARS OLD
                         Section             Index
                         Readership        Adults=100
CLASSIFIED                 73%                100
Sports                     74%                 99
Entertainment              77%                 96
General News               92%                 96
Comics                     72%                 91
TV/Radio                   70%                 93
Business                   69%                 90
Editorial                  74%                 90
Food                       67%                 88
Home                       66%                 88
Sources: SMRB 1993

Classified is the only section in which the readership of young adults is the same as total adults -- thus, the index of 100.

For all other sections, the readership of young adults lags behind that of total adults -- thus, indices under 100. Such a finding is not surprising, given the fact that most important decisions made by young people -- finding a job, a place to live, a car, and even a personal relationship -- are influenced by classified.

Indeed, young adults are less likely to read every page of the newspaper (51%) than are total adults (57%), according to a comparative study on page opening by SMRB. However, 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to turn specifically to classified (22%) than are total adults (16%).

And, as Table B shows, the SMRB data for the entire U.S. are replicated in four local market newspaper studies in different-sized newspapers in different regions of the U.S.

In only one market (Daytona Beach, Fla.) is the young adult readership of classified index below 100, but classified is still the best-read section relative to other sections measured.
18 to 34 YEARS OLD
                                 Index             Section
                          (Total Adults= 100)      Rank
U.S.                              100                 1
Buffalo News                      131                 1
Daytona Beach
New-Journal                        98                 1
Eugene, Ore.
Register-Guard                    100                 1
Oakland Press,
Pontiac, Mich.                    103                 1
Sources: Local Market Studies

And, if there remain any skeptics as to the value of classified for attracting young adults to the newspaper, one need only consider such anecdotal evidence as the success of alternative (and mainstream) publications, such as the Village Voice and Creative Loafing, the classified content of which often dominates the publication.

The implications for the industry are so obvious they hardly need stating, but newspapers should be asking:

* Is our newspaper's classified user-friendly for young adults who are often more subject to time-poverty than are older adults?

* How is our newspaper promoting classified to capitalize on its strong appeal to young adults (classic rock stations are hot and all-news format radio stations are not).

* Would our newspaper be supportive of an industry-wide effort to promote classified to young adults (Spin and Rolling Stone are hot and the Seven Sisters are not)?

In net, classified is one of newspapers' strengths for converting young adults from occasional to regular readers, if it is positioned and marketed both strategically and tactically in the months and years ahead.
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Title Annotation:classified sections marketing
Author:Mennenga, John
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 24, 1994
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