15.03.2022 / Knud Wassermann

Print Makes You Healthy

In times of the pandemic, "fake news" has increased sharply, especially in the health sector. Print media have proven to be resilient in this area as well and are regarded by readers as a trustworthy source.

Health has never had such a high priority in society as it does today. The pandemic has made it clear to us all that health is everything – and without health, everything is nothing. But even without Corona, health awareness in Germany has increased significantly in recent years, as the German Society for Integrated Communications Research (GIK) has revealed in its Health Report 2020. Compared with the results from 2013, 37 percent of respondents say they frequently obtain information about health from the media. This represents an increase of 5 percent.

Trustworthy information
It is also interesting to note the increasing trust in the advice provided by pharmacists. This may also be due to the strong increase in interest in over-the-counter medicines in Germany. The second healthcare market comprises over-the-counter medicines and individual healthcare services, fitness and wellness, and health tourism – and, depending on how it is defined, has a sales volume of around 25 percent of the 400 billion euro total market in Germany alone. All products and services in the secondary healthcare market are free from advertising restrictions.

Especially at the beginning of the first Corona wave, the advertising industry fell into a veritable state of shock. But during the health crisis, publishers reporting on it went into high gear. Especially in times of disinformation and "fake news," people are looking for trustworthy information. 

"The strong media brands stand for exactly that: editorial environments that deliver reliable information and high quality, and which are thus striking differentiators in intermedia competition," says Lutz Drüge, Managing Director Print and Digital Media at the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ).

Reaching less digitally affine target groups
A trip to the newsstand is enough to convince yourself of the importance of the market. Magazine titles focusing on health, lifestyle, nutrition or fitness are booming. Almost every major weekly magazine, but also many daily newspapers, have their own sections or supplements on the topic of health. Print has proven to be resilient – despite advancing digitization – especially in the health sector.

Like Funke Mediengruppe with Gesund.de, Burda is also trying to expand a brand that is strongly anchored on the Internet with a print version with NetDoktor. The publisher sees this as an opportunity to reach target groups with less digital affinity and to give focus topics with particular depth the space they need. 

The test edition published in April 2021 showed that the NetDoktor brand also achieves a high level of acceptance in print form. The title will go into series production this year and is scheduled to appear quarterly. The magazine has 100 pages and will hit newsstands with a print run of 100,000 copies.

High-quality customer magazine from the pharmacy
However, the flagship of the healthcare market is not on the newsstand, but in the pharmacies. Since 1956, customers have received the "Apotheken Umschau", published by Wort & Bild, free of charge. 90 percent of the approximately 20,000 pharmacies in Germany subscribe to the magazine. As part of this, each pharmacy has the option of customizing its magazine – for example, with a logo or company stamp. In this way, they receive a high-quality customer magazine that explains medical topics in a simple and understandable way. 

The bi-weekly "Apotheken Umschau" is a major player in the overall magazine market. 7.6 million copies were sold in the period under review, March 2021, which corresponds to a reach of 26 percent of the population aged 14 and over.

Andreas Vogel, owner of the Scientific Institute for Press Research and Audience Analysis (WIP), who has been monitoring the German magazine landscape for years, describes the situation as follows: "Paid health magazines have always had a hard time finding buyers and readers." Since they compete with the free pharmacy magazines in terms of content, the situation is getting worse. Because the sheets from the pharmacies offer a high quality and are more independent than some purchase titles at the kiosk.

Life begins at the age of 66
The “Apotheken Umschau” is often referred at the market as “Renter-Bravo”, based on the German youth magazine “Bravo”. The Wort & Bild publishing house therefore celebrated the 66th anniversary of the “Apotheken Umschau” with a certain amount of self-irony and published part of the issue in the typical “Bravo”-look. 

For example, there is a comic love story between a pharmacist and a customer, the cover of the special section features doctor, author and actress Marianne Koch and the “Dr.-Sommer-Sprechstunde” gives tips for love.  A “Star Report on Virus VIP” deals with the Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach and the virologist Christian Drosten, among others.

Strolling mode for regenerative breaks
Considering how closely health is linked to values such as mindfulness, trust or relaxation, it is not surprising that print products in particular are successful in this market. Accordingly, the topic of health is also strongly represented on the book market. 

After all, reading on paper is a welcome interruption to leave everyday stress behind. In the process, our brain switches into a kind of strolling mode and provides regenerative breaks.

Knud Wassermann, 
Editor-in-Chief of "Graphische Revue”
15.03.2022 Knud Wassermann Editor-in-Chief of Graphische Revue