Marie Oldham: formerly of Havas and now Fresheyes Consultancy
Marie Oldham: formerly of Havas and now Fresheyes Consultancy
A view from Marie Oldham

How news habits are formed, and why they continue to prosper

Marie Oldham, formerly of Havas and now Fresheyes Consultancy, discusses human behaviour and how Newsworks' Generation News research offers rich findings for any media planner.

Human behaviour is wonderfully complex and, while very few marketers or media planners have studied psychology, we are in the business of changing human behaviours with every communications campaign we plan and execute.

This is why we hitched our wagon to behavioural economics with such enthusiasm. It makes so much sense to understand human beings on a motivational level before we have the temerity to think we can change existing buying or consumption behaviours or even create brand new habits (such as shopping at a German supermarket brand or reading our daily newspaper on a tablet). 

Behavioural economic models and theories have been used to inform government communications, such as the Department of Health's tobacco control campaign, where addiction and entrenched behaviours need to be tackled on a number of levels in order to unpick the habits of a lifetime. 

Conversely, the Generation News research, undertaken by Newsworks and the University of Bath, offers us all genuine insight into how new habits are formed and helps us to understand how communications need to take consumers on a journey in order to ingrain those new habits.

The principles of Routine, Reminder and Reward, outlined by Newsworks' Insight Director Denise Turner at an event last week, are critical to embed any habit, good or bad.

All three stages are intrinsic to how we consume news and this goes some way to helping us understand why, in a world where time is pressured, platforms are changing and news is being offered free to all, consumers are still seeking out newsbrands to help them navigate the world – making them an important part of daily routines.

In terms of news habits, the research further overlays the different need states of news readers in order to help us understand the motivations behind the formation of a spectrum of news habits.

Are you a news Tracker who needs to feel informed and "on top of the news"? Or an Indulger who devotes weekend mornings to immersion in the news and who likes in-depth articles on subjects you are passionate about?

The five news types reflect the lives we lead and the role of newsbrands in satisfying our need to understand the world.

Perhaps, most exciting of all is the fact that young consumer are forming their own news habits, not reading a paper because their parents did (as we have often assumed) but because they satisfy a range of personal needs.

Newsworks spoke to 18- to 34-year-olds but we should also look at learnings from First News, a newspaper aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, which is read by over two million children in the UK each week.

Each of them is discovering the world through news and creating their own news habits for the future.

Meanwhile, older consumers have shown us that they may have strong news routines and historically embedded need states, but they are comfortable with moving to new platforms to meet those needs.

The research offers planners a double whammy – an understanding of why news habits remain strong across all consumer groups as well as insight into how we build new habits – learning that we can leverage on all campaigns we plan.

Marie Oldham is strategy consultant at Fresheyes Consulting