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The flyer is still king

 11 April 2017     Ashley Newport 

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – In a world where the media has changed dramatically in a short period of time, furniture retailers might be at a loss when it comes to choosing the appropriate medium to reach out to consumers. For some years now the debate has persisted: digital or print?

The answer to many seems like a no brainer: digital. Over the past decade or so, major print publications have grappled with declining revenues and falling readership as tech-savvy consumers of all ages have chosen to consume media delivered on their smartphones, laptops and tablets. While this is a problem more specific to newspapers and magazines, retailers have suffered as they’ve struggled to determine the best way to reach potential buyers.

But while it’s difficult to deal with change and retailers have some tough decisions ahead, furniture aficionados who rely on the paper flyer can rest easy for now. According to discussions at the recent Retail Marketing Conference – held by the Retail Council of Canada at the International Centre here – the traditional flyer is still driving traffic and netting positive ROI for retailers.

Why is that?
“Canadians love value,” Michelle Digulla, vice president of marketing for the Toronto-based Metroland Media, said during her brief talk on digital flyers and their impact on today’s consumer.

To bolster her point, Digulla pointed out surveys have shown nine in ten Canadians feel good about finding good value – something flyers tend to illuminate and promote. She also said research reveals 85% of shoppers like to buy products that are on sale, 59% respond well to digital campaigns and 71% still gravitate to (and enjoy) paper flyers.

She cited Coca-Cola as an example, pointing out it generated its legendary following by drawing people to its product with handwritten coupons.

She used the example of Coca-Cola, which started building its legendary following using handwritten coupons.

Digulla also acknowledged digital is a growing media platform retailers shouldn’t ignore. She referenced data showing that in 2014, 16 billion digital coupons were redeemed worldwide and some 25% of consumers have shown a preference for non-paper flyers.

The conference gave retailers a lot to think about, with an emphatic focus on the changing consumer and the need to be, in a way, all things to all people. When advertising, it’s no longer quite enough to fill local and national mailboxes with flyers. While few experts argued against the use of the paper flyer – it’s cheap, efficient and effective, after all – many said it’s helpful for retailers to expand their advertising arsenal by dipping their toes into as many available media as possible.

One example is the well-known, provincially run Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

During the day-long conference’s Blend and Spend session, Julia Sousa, director of integrated marketing for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s (LCBO) wines and vintages program, discussed its evolving ad strategy. She noted while still using print advertising products, it’s not afraid to utilise digital avenues and even create videos.

To be fair, the LCBO has more dollars behind it than, say, a family-owned furniture and appliance store in small town in Ontario, B.C. or Quebec. Sousa showed an impressive short video featuring acclaimed celebrity chef Lynn Crawford pairing LCBO wines with her artfully-made dishes.

While not every talk focused on the flyer, most talked about navigating a rapidly evolving digital market and, surprisingly, the consensus around the flyer was clear: keep it. That said, experts did recommend targeting audiences specifically.

During one talk, experts said flyers do so well because they give people a reason to shop. Some people might never have thought to enter an IKEA Canada store until they realised, via a flyer or catalogue, that housewares and accent pillows are deeply discounted. For that reason, experts recommend making sure flyers, and indeed all advertising is geo-targeted and enticing.

Now, retailers have to advertise a deal to the person most likely to respond to it and they have to ensure they’re reaching people online and in print. It’s a bit of a challenge, but retailers at the conference seemed optimistic there are now more opportunities to reach consumers, not less.

Editor’s Note: Home Goods Online will be exploring current trends in the creation and distribution of the flyer – both print and digital – in an upcoming edition of the Merchandiser.

This HGO article was written by:
Ashley Newport
Ashley Newport

A regular contributor to HGO Merchandiser, Ashley Newport is a Toronto-based freelance journalist who writes primarily for trade and business publications. Her specialties include food, hospitality and emerging social/business trends.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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