Future Readers

How might we better serve our future customers now so they will become paying customers later? 

Primary Research objectives for this study
Uncover ways that Youth consume news, their attitudes towards news and work with them to generate new ideas

Secondary objectives
Collaborate with colleagues in different departments and meet OKR and research goals

Research Team: Digital Product (Design + PMs), Editorial, Marketing
Participants: 25 Grade 11 students in 2 separate classroom zoom calls with teacher co-facilitating (15 – 17 participants depending on the day)
Methodology: Focus group, breakout rooms, interviews, design jam exercises

Zoom convos with teens = all cameras off. Cameras came on in breakout rooms

For the first session we had a broad discussion about news. We asked the students how they get news, how they know it’s real and who they trust. Some key comments we heard:

  • on fake news: “I only believe something if enough people are talking about it.”
  • on engagement:  “Honestly if you’re trying to engage our age a lot of people do get their news on TikTok; you’d see a 10 second video explaining something about Covid. People rely on those sources for news.”
  • on sharing: “It has to be extremely easy to send to a friend quickly”

The following week we asked the students to critique the Toronto Star App and site:

  • The sites were only “OK” (it seemed they were trying to be polite)
  • For them, it was more about the other ways they get their news: Rather than seeking news, they happen upon it, or stumble across it. 
  • When we got them to constrain the browser into phone width all 3 kids audibly expressed relief as if to say “this feels more in order”
  • Too much news at once is overwhelming

3. Finally we asked the students to reimagine what an appealing news app they would use might look like. We did some ideation exercises, starting with Crazy 8s and then some prototype sketches.

HMW make use of these findings

  • How to get ourselves into their daily lives via Instagram or TikTok
  • How to be there in all phases/stages as people grow

Resulting Changes: Based on the research done in this study, the editorial team had a clear point of view that focusing on TikTok was the way to go. In just a few months after this study the new channel has more than 8K followers. This has been a significant boost to audience engagement and a strong start to building brand awareness with a new audience of future subscribers.