The circular newspaper insert has forever been a key marketing tool for retailers. But newspaper circulation has continued to plummet and some don't even deliver on a daily basis. Here in Detroit, the major papers are delivered to the home on Thursday, Friday and Sunday only. New mediums like social media, digital marketing and mobile marketing have emerged. Email marketing is effective for only a fraction of the cost of circulars. So, should retailers still spend significant cash outlays on weekly circulars?
I spoke about this recently with Britt Beemer, head of America's Research Group, and asked him how important traditional media is to the success of retailers, especially major ticket retailers. He said his research has shown that, in spite of the growth of digital and social media, when it's time to buy furniture or appliances, customers still leaf through newspaper circulars before going shopping.
This seems to be especially true around the natural holidays, known to the consumer as the time when retailers have big sales. Last Thanksgiving, Britt's research showed that the vast majority of Black Friday shoppers shopped circulars before hitting the malls. That seems counter-intuitive, given the drastic drops in newspaper circulation. But Britt said that although consumers might not subscribe to a paper, they will stop at the store or vending machine and buy one when they're going to buy a big-ticket item. Or when they plan a major shopping spree, like after Thanksgiving.
It would seem the news of the death of the circular was a bit exaggerated, so to speak. If you are a major ticket retailer, they still work for you. And during heavy shopping times, like Black Friday, they work for a much wider range of retailers. Consumers who are in the market will go out and buy a paper, even if they no longer read it on a regular basis.
This bit of information might prompt a change in strategy. Maybe you should pitch your newspaper rep on selling you ads in the "rack" papers rather than the entire home delivery market? Because when the consumer is ready to buy, they'll go out and buy a copy of your circular.