A print circular plays a major role in creating brand awareness and helping to generate sales at the retail level. Despite increasing print and distribution costs circulars still remain a cost-effective means for disseminating information to a large audience. The opportunity to target specific geographic areas and track (albeit with limitations) the success of a circular campaign are key benefits frequently stated by circular proponents.
What about the digital circular? What value does it offer?
Nielsen reported that retailers devote up to 70% of their entire marketing budget on print circulars. With such a large amount of resources tied up into a single property it only makes sense that a retailer squeeze as much out of that lemon as possible. A print circular can be re-flowed into a Flip Page digital circular efficiently and cost effectively.
Digital consumption is trending upwards at an enormous rate. Just consider the amount of users who have internet access in North America - 87% in 2014 according to Nielsen. Internet penetration is pivotal for digital success but the engagement times are even more surprising. According to a report by Nielsen, consumers average 133 hours a month in front of the television. However, TV is followed by mobile (34 hours of browsing and App usage) and desktop browsing (27 hours). Of the top three, mobile is the only showing significant growth. All of this digital interruption has reduced the amount of time the average consumer spends with traditional media such as newspapers.
How does the digital interruption caused by mobile phones and tablets and the success of social media Apps such as Facebook and Twitter benefit retailers? Adding a digital circular to multi-channel campaign allows a retailer to reach a consumer at multiple digital touch points (website, email, social media, text) on a variety of different platforms (smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops) with a single product.
"reach a consumer at multiple digital touch points (website, email, social media, text) on a variety of different platforms"
As previously mentioned there are a number of touch points available for distribution of digital circulars. Website, email, social media, text and displays ads are just a few delivery methods available for digital circulars. What makes digital delivery unique when compared to physical delivery? Loyal consumers.
Email delivery, especially following the CASL legislation, ensures that the digital circular content is reaching a qualified audience who has opted-in to the communication. This is a much more impactful spend compared to the broad sweeping paint strokes of print delivery. This also holds true for social media delivery where consumers have made a conscious decision to ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ a brand.
"reaching a qualified audience who has opted-in to the communication".
Another advantage of digital delivery, via a subscribed email newsletter as an example, is the lack of distraction as compared to a circular inserted into a local newspaper which also includes competing advertisements and circulars.
Nielsen noted that Grocery and Pharmaceutical are unique as compared to other retail establishments in that they typically receive 2 to 4 times more foot traffic over the course of a week. This suggests that there would be a benefit to pushing out a circular on more than one occasion to maintain brand awareness. A Flip Page circular can be seamlessly and cost-effectively distributed multiple times over a sale period.
"Digital circulars allow consumers to become advocates 4 a brand"
Digital circulars allow consumers to become advocates for a brand whether it be due to great products, terrific pricing or for their own personal gratification. A loyal consumer, with a click of a button, can push the Flip Page medium to ‘uncharted waters’ via email or social media. The simple sharing tools in a digital circular not only expose the brand to new consumers but the introduction is through a trusted source within the same social circle.
In the Nielsen report only a small percentage (20%) of retailers were successfully bringing their own clients to their website. Reverse that thought and that means that 80% of retailers are not able to get their own consumers to visit their website. There are a number of potential reasons but static content would likely be a main cause. Digital circulars drive traffic and deliver engagement.
Content marketers suggest one of the most effective ways to engage readers is to continually create new content. Without devoting resources that can be a difficult task but re-purposing a print circular to a retail website provides that fresh content to bring consumers back to a brand. This is especially important considering that of the 20% that are visiting a retailers site they are spending an additional 30% in stores (Neilsen).
There are limited options available to test the effectiveness of a print circular. Coupons, custom URL’s, and QR codes offer some insight but fail to tell a complete story. The same can be said for a hosted PDF. With Flip Page digital circulars it is possible to get a more complete picture of how a consumer engages with a brand.
"more complete picture of how a consumer engages with a brand".
With some pre-planning it is possible to determine how readers reach the circular and what they do while it is being viewed. The data, once compiled, provides the opportunity to make future decisions pertaining to product inclusion, product placement and overall layout for both print and digital. At a more advanced level the data can be used to determine a more customized or consumer-focused circular.
The beneficial role of analytics is not limited to marketing and sales departments. Product interest via the digital circular can assist at an operations level by making decisions regarding product availability and inventory.
According to Nielsen print circulars are influential in the buying process specifically for ‘deal’ seekers. However, digital is becoming a large part of the ‘pre-consideration’ portion of the purchasing process. Consumers are looking for active deals and price comparison points prior to making a purchase and using the web for consultation. Shoppers not only want to be able to find the best prices available but they also want to the ‘search’ for those prices to be convenient. Offering both print distribution and a digital Flip Page circular ensures that consumers are provided with several touch points to find current sales.
"digital is becoming a large part of the ‘pre-consideration’ portion of the purchasing process".
It is a common misconception that digital circulars better serve retail businesses that have integrated e-commerce since there is a direct path from decision making to purchase. Especially with retail focused integrations like Unify. However, even retailers who do not offer online sales benefit from digital circulars by bringing in buyers to brick-and-mortar locations.
There are massive benefits to manufacturers and distributers whose products are featured in a digital circular. Enhanced media allows a manufacturer to enhance the product image with an interactive video or ad. Links to additional content such as product specifications, warranties, additional images etc allow a customer to gather more information on the path to purchase.
The Nielsen study which has been referred to on multiple occasions made one thing clear - there is still plenty of evidence which suggests that physical paper copies have an integral role in the buying process. Studies showed that despite the fact that paper and email have an equal ‘reach’ paper is more likely to affect purchasing decisions. Shoppers have even shown a propensity for paper in the future but with an emphasis on growth of digital.
With this information in hand it would not be advisable to roll back physical circulars in place of digital. However, the value of a Flip Page digital circular cannot be overstated. A retail circular via Flip Page delivers significant value to retailers and manufacturers by effectively reaching and engaging customers, increasing web and in-store traffic, and ultimately delivering more sales.
Source - Neilsen 'Evolution of the Retail Circular'