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The great Canadian flyer

Print flyers are one of grocery's best sales tools. Here's how to make them even better

Some people think the print flyer’s days are numbered. High production costs and the rise of the e-flyer will bury it, they say. I disagree. Canadian shoppers absolutely love newspaper flyers. They are not going to go away any time soon.

It’s hard to beat the reach of flyers. Just look at these numbers, pulled from a consumer study Explorer Shopper Research did in July:

• 34% of Canadians look at flyer ads more often than they did a year ago.

• 64% view 4.2 flyers a week, on average.

• 37% of shoppers have complained to a store if that store’s flyer was not delivered to their home.

As a medium, flyers pack an impressive punch. Shoppers in most major Canadian cities are exposed to 1,600 to 2,000 printed grocery ads per week. That’s a lot of deals!

The No. 1 reason people look at flyers is to review prices. But the reason they use print flyers is sheer simplicity. Print flyers can be eyeballed quickly and they’re much easier to examine than online flyers.

But print flyers can be made even better. Here are four ways:

1. Less adds up to more. Explorer eye-tracking research confirms that, on average, 30% of ads per flyer page are engaged or “shopped.”

This number drops precipitously the more complex a page becomes, or when the page features a large number of ads. While having more ads has a clear revenue benefit for retailers, more ads do not necessarily increase engagement with the flyer.

2. Feature more new stuff. Our research found that 72% of shoppers believe that flyers are the best place to find out about new products. Incidentally, 68% of shoppers said they find it “somewhat” or “very difficult” to find new products in the store.

Retailers should create separate sections in flyers that promote new products. The ads should indicate where in the store the items can be found.

“New product only” pages showcasing new items or general trial offers around new items could enhance flyer engagement further. Just think of Loblaw’s Insider’s Report. It does a fabulous job highlighting new products.

3. Create bundled offers and minimize the cherry-pick. When we asked shoppers if they’ve ever switched stores due to an attractive flyer ad, 57% said they had, particularly after seeing meat or produce ads.

But in studies we conducted, if high-value items, such as meat or produce, were bundled with other items that were in the flyer, the potential for shoppers to remain loyal to that store actually went up.

But here’s an interesting twist: If the ad discounts that were to be applied to all the other items in the bundle offer were only applied to the item with the highest perceived value (e.g., meat or produce), engagement went up significantly for the bundled ad, as did customer retention. Psychologists refer to this behavioural effect as “hedonic bundling.”

4. Move to the middle. Retailers spend a lot of time getting their flyer’s front page just right. Makes sense. Page One is what people see first. But what about the flyer’s middle pages? They could certainly use more attention.

Our research found that viewing of middle pages–including time per page, ads viewed and ads engaged and shopped–dropped as much as 70%, depending on the retailer.

One of two things drove the decline: visual fatigue or a lack of understanding on the part of the consumer as to why ads were grouped together; or the page theme wasn’t interesting, relevant or easy to understand.

Shoppers want three things when they look at flyers: value, inspiration and ease of browsing. Keep those points in mind when designing your middle pages. Think engagement! And don’t just focus on price.

Marc Inkol is president of Explorer Shopper Research in Mississauga, Ont.

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