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Perceived substitutability between digital and physical channels: the case of newspapers

Carlos Flavián (Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Raquel Gurrea (Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 27 November 2007

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the main motivations that influence readers to read newspapers, and, to analyse their influence on the level of perceived substitutability between digital and traditional channels in the newspaper business.

Design/methodology/approach

First, qualitative studies were carried out which allowed reader motivations to be identified and the hypotheses to be established. Subsequently an online survey was applied to a representative sample of users. The scales were validated and refined, after which the hypotheses were tested by way of a structural equation model.

Findings

Results confirm that readers motivated by aspects related mainly to differential attributes of the internet versus traditional channels perceive them both as information conduits and not as substitutive products. Meanwhile, motivations that could be satisfied through both channels positively affect the level of perceived substitutability between digital and traditional newspapers. Nevertheless, readers prefer reading a newspaper in the physical medium, for entertainment.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies that analyses reader behaviour on the part of the internet press readership. In this sense it provides a significant contribution because it studies reader goals from a global perspective and analyses the substitutability perceived by users. Also, the research presents some key managerial implications for multi‐channel distribution. In fact, the offer of the digital channel should provide substantially different features from that of the printed newspaper in such a way that the two products are differentiated and closely fit the preferences of different consumer groups.

Keywords

Citation

Flavián, C. and Gurrea, R. (2007), "Perceived substitutability between digital and physical channels: the case of newspapers", Online Information Review, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 793-813. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684520710841775

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited