I’m a diehard newspaper-in-print subscriber. Every morning in the wee hours, my dauntless delivery person deposits all the news that’s fit to print in my paper box. The paper waits for me there, sometimes hours, sometimes days, until I retrieve it.
A lazy Sunday and a mail holiday on Monday kept me in the warm confines of my house, so three newspapers waited for me when I finally made the trek to the box on Tuesday. I laid the papers on the counter without a second glance, and a few hours later I moved them all, still folded and unread, to the recycling bin.
That wasn’t the first time.
In fact, this has pretty much been my normal routine for the past several years. Occasionally, when there’s a big to-do in my community, I’ll scour the pages for information, but generally, I’ve already gotten my fill online by the time I get around to looking at my paper. And frankly, I don’t sit around a lot looking for an activity to accompany my cup of coffee. Nonetheless, I just can’t bring myself to cancel my subscription.
I’m a boon for someone doing a marketing case study on purchase motivation (or for a shrink). Someone trying to sell me a subscription might tout the affordable price, the portability of the medium, the convenience of delivery, the ability to find and review local events in one place, and even its multifunctionality when I need, say, wrapping paper. I could offer arguments for and against all of these, but none of these reasons hits the mark on why I maintain my newspaper subscription.
After a lot of self-reflection, I came to this: having a newspaper delivered to my house makes me feel like a grown-up. Seriously. It’s part of the archetype of the American dream–a house in suburbia, a couple of kids, lots of creature comforts, and padding to the mailbox in your robe and slippers to get your newspaper, perhaps chatting with the neighbor who’s doing it, too.
Even though I’ve never made it to my mailbox in my robe–though sweats and a tank top aren’t out of the question on a quiet Sunday morning–nor have I chatted with a neighbor, my newspaper still conjures up these feelings. I buy it because it’s a symbol.
It makes no financial sense for me to continue to transfer my daily paper from my mailbox to my recycling bin without opening it, but I probably will. Although I’ve exposed my own illogic, I don’t think I’m that different from most people. Everyone has a newspaper, something he buys for illogical reasons. We can’t forget that when we’re trying to sell a product, market a service, attract people to a venue, or just make a convincing argument. Sometimes the things that motivate people aren’t the things that make sense. Instead of ignoring those things, why not appeal to them? Think about it.