Industrial journals that look and sound alike

The large number of journals offered to South Africa readers has resulted in considerable confusion among readers as to what, in fact, they are reading.  Some publishers, competing with each other in a limited market, follow others by using similar titles, similar layouts and similar articles. Others may opt to purposely initiate changes to make their journals look different.  

They may change the format or the type of paper, use more colour, staple the pages or allow the sheets to fold loosely into the journal, or make other attempts at differentiation.  However, it is the similarity of titles that confuse readers most.  The confusion may go so far as to cause an advertiser to use a journal different from the one he thinks he is using and makes readership research in the industrial journal sector extremely difficult.

Industrial readership research cannot be carried out by telephone because the respondent must be shown pictures of the journal front page or allow him to page through a copy of the journal

Even when titles or the journals are shown respondents they may still identify the journal incorrectly.  Past readership research we have conducted has included several dummy titles of journals that do not exist and has picked up a significant number of ‘readers’ of the non-existent journal; consequently, the market researcher must do everything possible to reduce the ‘total error’ in the survey.  In most market research there is an element of ‘total error’ that has a lot to do with research methodology and little to do with sampling, respondent selection, the questionnaire and other variables.  The trained researcher must be able to anticipate sources of error and must reduce if not entirely eliminate them.


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