The power of regional and community newspaper media

One in three consumers live outside the city limits. Harness the power of regional newspapers to support national and metro campaigns and connect brands with this lucrative market.

The power of regional and community newspaper media


Successful brands constantly seek new ways to attract new customers and grow revenues. A core component of all their strategies is the media strategy – what to buy and when. Today, the choices have never been so varied and slicing through the white noise has never been so challenging.

The five-metro market

Focus falls on the five-metro market when planning a national brand campaign. Australia is the most urbanised nation so targeting the cities is time-efficient and relatively straightforward in terms of booking print, TV and radio.

It is little recognised that such a strategy ignores some 44 per cent of the population, all with similar demography, average wage and lifestyle characteristics.

More than 7.8 million live beyond the city limits.2 Queensland has three-quarters (76%) of its residents in regional areas, outside Brisbane.3 Any campaign that uses only metro media misses a swathe of potential profitable revenue growth.

7.8 million consumers live outside major metro areas. That’s 44% of all consumers!


Hello, Regional Australia

Brands looking to target specific regional consumer segments will find the numbers stack up, and the noise of city advertising volumes is nowhere near as loud in regional areas.

Regional Australians make similar lifestyle choices and enjoy comparative levels of income. Additionally, they are 25 per cent more likely to own their own home outright, which is a significant erosion of disposable incomes in cities.4


A wealthy group

Employment and income levels are strongly aligned to the national average with four in ten regional Australians in full time employment.5


Regional Queensland, Western Australian and all of the Northern Territory boast strong average household incomes compared with the national average.

Comparable household income figures, coupled with a cheaper cost of living, make regional households a lucrative proposition for brands.

Home is where the heart is

Given that home ownership is 25 per cent more likely than in the city, regional Australians tend to spend more at DIY and furniture stores and with electrical retailers, homewares and garden suppliers.

Regional Australians are.

  • 12% more likely to renovate
  • 11% more likely to garden
  • 11% more likely to visit a hardware store

All in the family

Families are the key consumer segment for many big brands, particularly in the FMCG and retail sectors. A higher proportion of regional Australians have children aged under 12 than city families (29% vs 26%).7 Any brand that relies on young families as a major part of its customer base cannot afford to ignore regional Australia.

According to emma data, one in three so-called “Big Consumer Spenders”* lives in regional Australia. The accompanying table shows the number of regional consumers who are in the top 20 per cent of spenders in each category on a national basis.


*Big Consumer Spenders” defined as top 1/3rd of spenders on consumer goods.

One size doesn’t fit all

The challenge facing any brand is creating the message and media mix that reaches and resonates with regional and rural markets. Many media agency buyers invest in Five-Metro Media with the expectation that they have also squared away potential regional customers. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to emma data. A high proportion of regional consumers are either non- or light-consumers of mainstream media. Some don’t even live their lives on the Internet!


National campaigns that focus only on metro media will not necessarily hit their regional target, and thus fail to support the retailers and franchisees who run business in towns and regional centres.

That’s why an increasing number of media agencies are investing in local area marketing to increase their clients’ campaign penetration figures.

Local area marketing

Some media buyers are responding to this advertising challenge by focusing on local area marketing and engaging positively with the community through local media to increase profile. This is a step beyond using advertising creative and media strategy to increase awareness and, therefore, sales.

Any brand looking to grow the reach of a national campaign should incorporate local area marketing on some level.

There is extensive proof that advertising in regional newspapers works in terms of growing brands and boosting return on investment of precious marketing dollars.

Case study: Bank of Queensland smashes targets with help of regional newspapers10

Bank of Queensland took on the “Big Four” banks with a campaign that used local area marketing to great effect. Regional newspapers helped deliver a 7 per cent increase in brand awareness across key markets while the brand’s “Net Promoter Score” (NPS) rose significantly.

The “Big Four” have dominated the banking sector for years. Bank of Queensland, an ambitious but comparatively small bank, wanted to take some of their market share.

A brand review concluded Bank of Queensland needed to change its brand positioning, and it became BOQ. It settled on a new brand position that focused on a point of difference – its local owner-managers who, because of their ownership, would care more about their customers and provide a personal service.

 “Imagine a bank that’s truly personal. A bank with local Owner-Managers who treat every single customer like a VIP.”


A solid strategy

BOQ launched a three-phase strategy:

  1. Relaunch the brand internally and start to hardwire new core values to the customer experience (based on customer insights around the ideal personal service interaction with BOQ);
  2. Relaunch the brand externally and bring to life its #1 and unique proof point, the Owner-Managers; and
  3. Segment the market to target groups where the service proposition would resonate most successfully.

Target market segments:

  • Young adults (aged 25-34)
    Mortgage belt (aged 35 – 54)
     Small business owners

Role of regionals

BOQ maximised a limited marketing budget by going local, relying on Queensland’s regional newspapers.

In the first phase of the media execution, BOQ ran full page press ads featuring first-hand stories from Owner-Managers about why they had joined the bank and what they hoped to achieve. They starred in regional newspapers across the state.


Return on investment

The results from this campaign were high-impact and fast.

  • Up 6.7 percent – New deposit accounts (nearly 250% faster the market average)
  • Up 7.2 per cent – Spontaneous awareness
  • 75% believed BOQ’s was different from the rest.

Reach, combined with high levels of trust, means regional newspapers deliver results in a local area campaign.

Reach out to regionals

It is important to get the lexicon of newspaper correct. Large regional newspapers include dailies such as the Sunshine Coast Daily, Cairns Post or Illawarra Mercury, while smaller regionals offer weekly and bi-weekly titles in towns. All these smaller titles have similar characteristics to Community, or suburban newspapers offering intimate connection with their local communities.

The trust factor

Research by The Newspaper Works shows regional newspapers are the most successful local media in driving sales. The trusted relationship regional communities have with their local newspaper underpins this success.

Regional newspapers have a long-standing history of keeping readers up to date on local issues, representing the voice of the community. Readers trust them as the local authority, delivering relevant and factual news updates.

This trust lifts regional newspapers above other local advertising media in consumers’ eyes. Research by Brand Navigator13 shows readers:

  • Engage more deeply with regional newspapers compared with TV and radio;
  • Are twice as likely to have enquired about a product or service because of a newspaper ad than one played on local radio;
  • Are nearly twice as likely to have visited a store or business because of a newspaper ad as opposed to a local TV ad;
  • Believe local newspapers are more likely will stand up for their community on important issues (71%) than local TV (36%);
  • Are more likely to act on, keep or share content compared with TV, radio or letterbox catalogues/flyers;
  • Will more likely keep details of a newspaper ad (46%) than a flyer (14%)
  • Will be nearly three times as likely to share something with family and friends if read in a newspaper (48%) than if they received the information from local radio (14%) or TV (15%) and;
  • Feel positive towards advertisers (54%) compared with those on TV (24%), radio (25%) and in catalogues (18%)


1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10. emma, 12 months to August 2014.
8. Bank of Queensland (BOQ): Smashing targets with the Owner-Manager story. Russ Vine, Greg Abbey and Jacinta Crabtree, the Communications Council, Gold, Australian Effie Awards, 2011.
11. The Local Newspaper Report, The Newspaper Works and Brand Navigator 2012 (readers of regional newspapers).

The author: Adrian Fernandes is Research & Insights Specialist at The Newspaper Works. He is an award winning researcher with over a decade of experience in advertising and brand research for leading market research agencies in Europe & Australia. His previous experience includes 4 years at Fairfax Media as Consumer Insights Manager.

Connect with us for more insights and news about our industry. If you have any questions or if you want to know more about how to apply the strategies discussed, please get in touch:

T (02) 9692 6300 | | Level 2 60 Union Street Pyrmont, NSW 2009 Australia

View Part Two of Think Local here.

View Part Three of Think Local here.
View Part Four of Think Local here.
View Part Five of Think Local here.


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