Obituaries: The Gap Between Newspaper Pricing Trends & Consumer Expectations

July 17, 2016
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Guest Article provided by: Legacy.com

About the Research
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Legacy.com set out to study pricing trends on newspaper obituaries throughout the United States. We reviewed all the obituaries in our database and determined the average length of an obituary is 836 characters (with 42.92% of obits containing a photo). In conjunction with Adpay, we took that average obituary notice size and priced it with 625 newspapers across the U.S. Many papers had different pricing based on whether or not an image was included, placement on the page, etc., so we then determined each newspaper’s low, mean, and high price for the average obit. For this analysis, we used the mean price.

After examining pricing trends, we were interested in understanding how the actual in-market pricing compared to what people expected to pay to place an obituary. As pricing is very different dependent on market size in both studies, we grouped responses by market size.

Survey data was fielded via Cint. We polled over 1,000 people to determine how much they would be willing to spend on a print, online, or bundled obituary for newspapers in markets of various sizes. Recommended by Survey Monkey, Cint hosts more than 19 million registered consumers worldwide, giving researchers the ability to access and survey more than 70 countries in real time.

The combined research left us with three key observations:

1. People want to place an obituary. According to the research, 88% of respondents said they would place an obituary if a loved one died. This figure was consistent among all regions and ages.

2. What respondents expected to pay for a print or bundled obituary was 13-90% lower than the actual obit prices we found through this pricing study and varied significantly by market size. In small markets, the price people expected to pay was aligned most closely with the actual pricing trends; in major metro areas, people expected to pay much less than the actual prices we found through the study.

3. Online obits were valued highly relative to print at 70-80% of print costs.

Conclusion

People want to place obituaries in newspapers. The large gap in how much respondents expect an obit to cost and how much newspapers are charging (especially in larger or national markets) could be why the claimed intent from 88% of respondents does not translate into a similarly high level of actual placement.

Local community papers may have additional print opportunities, with interest in placing an obituary and expectations of cost being very much in line with the actual costs. Major metropolitan newspapers and those with national reach may expand their opportunities by highlighting online-only obituaries, as the interest in and expectation of online prices are relatively strong.

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