Written by Eric Tiansay   


David Kinnaman

Christians continue to embrace computer tablets and e-readers, but Christian retailers "could be cut out of the digital picture without strategic efforts," according to a new CBA-commissioned research by the Barna Group.


Conducted in May, the Christian Retail: The Rise of E-Reading study showed that one in four Christians use an e-reader or mobile tablet for reading purposes, with pastors leading the way. From 2010 to 2012, pastors’ use of e-readers has tripled from 14% to 44%. Last year’s Barna study for CBA found similar results in terms of e-reader or tablet use by Christians.

The latest research revealed that the biggest demographic of Christian retail shoppers are Busters, ages 30 to 48, and Boomers, ages 49 to 67. The Mosaic generation, ages 18 to 29, is only half as likely to shop in Christian stores and only one-fourth as likely to be monthly shoppers.

The wide-ranging study also found that the biggest reason Christians retail shoppers cited for shopping at Christian stores rather than online was selection (29%), followed by cost and convenience. Nearly one-fourth (21%) of Christians indicated that they shop at Christian stores because they love the ethos of the staff and store, and they want to support the ministry. Christian retail shoppers spend more time in weekly reading (three hours) in both print and digital formats than non-Christian-retail consumers (two hours).

"The digital revolution is changing the way people find, shop for and purchase products," said Barna President David Kinnaman. "It also means the advantage of wide selection is neutralized for physical retailers, since innumerable products are available online. For Christian bookstores, this means that the value proposition of great selection will not be sufficient for the longterm.

"The nature of Twitter and Facebook is making it easier for consumers to interact directly with authors, leaders and influencers," he added. "Retailers, who have traditionally served as connectors of Christians to content, could be increasingly cut out of the picture without strategic efforts to become more integral to the digital future. In short, social media is like a backstage pass to authors, so retailers have to be increasingly aware of the changing expectations related to access."

To learn more about the report, visit www.barna.org.