French papers gaining readers

In spite of market fragmentation and competition from Quebec electronic media over the past 30 years, French daily newspapers have remained one of the more progressive media vehicles, with a steadily evolving and loyal readership.Maurice Leclerc, Eastern Canada sales manager for...

In spite of market fragmentation and competition from Quebec electronic media over the past 30 years, French daily newspapers have remained one of the more progressive media vehicles, with a steadily evolving and loyal readership.

Maurice Leclerc, Eastern Canada sales manager for the Newspaper Marketing Bureau, which represents 110 dailies across Canada, recently revealed the results of a study undertaken in November 1992 on the reading habits of Canadian daily newspaper readers: 69% of people surveyed read at least one daily from Monday to Friday; 87% read their daily from front to back, while 12% read only sections.

This is a rather significant evolution for the French sector. In 1960, French newspapers accounted for 68% of the daily newspaper circulation in Quebec. This ratio has risen to 83% in 1991, an increase of 15 points.

These figures do not represent the Quebec population’s reading of Toronto dailies, which are sold in Montreal, but not audited.

There are in Montreal three French dailies – le Journal de Montreal, La Presse and Le Devoir, and one English daily, The Gazette. All four compete for market share.

Compared with the rest of Canada and other Western World countries, Quebecers have a different attitude toward their daily newspapers.

Eleven French dailies compete throughout the province to increase their market share and their French-speaking client base. Fifty-six per cent of the French-speaking readership is located on the Island of Montreal.

New graphics

On Jan. 26, Le Devoir unveiled a new graphic image. The design pays tribute to the newspaper’s history (it was founded in 1910) as society looks forward to the post-modern era.

From a marketing point of view, the redesign was intended as a breakthrough with younger readership in the business sector and opinion leaders, accounting for close to 53% of the population in the Montreal region.

Since the launch of its new layout, circulation of Le Devoir has increased nearly 25%.

Read more

While Quebecers have reduced their tv watching habits by almost one hour per week, they read a little more. The three French daily newspapers in Montreal have increased their circulation in the last 12 months.

Le Devoir reports an average increase of more than 7,000 copies, 3,000 for La Presse and a little less than 1,000 for le Journal de Montreal.

Lucie Pinsonneault is director of advertising and sales at Le Devoir.