Grocers to Try New Tactics with Digital Circulars

Thumbing through the weekly circular is a time-​honored tradition for many grocery shoppers. Over the past decade, marketers have made numerous attempts to interest shoppers in digital versions of the circular but the printed copies remain popular. New technology and strategies may converge in the near future to shift consumer attention away from one of their favorite forms of advertising.

According to Nielsen analysts, print circulars are most successful when they follow these rules:

  • Advertise high-​penetration/​high-​purchase frequency products that appeal to many consumers.
  • Use smart discounting to preserve margins while satisfying consumers.
  • Use the ad space to promote price-​sensitive items.
  • Promote items that consumers are apt to buy in groups to increase sales.
  • Promote a significant number of nationally known brands.

These strategies may explain why 60%+ of shoppers take a look at grocery circulars on a weekly basis. This pre-​shopping behavior influences where consumers choose to shop.

By comparison, consumers say they use the following new technologies to learn about sales and product information on a weekly basis:

  • Social media 45%
  • Store sites using tablet PC 35%
  • Smart or mobile phone 39%

Clearly, consumers have not yet begun to widely use new technology to replace the traditional circular. Nielsen’s research also highlighted an interesting finding with respect to Millennials and how they are influenced to make store selections. Traditional direct mail and newspapers scored the highest, over 90%, with the tech savvy group. When it comes to new media, 55% of Millennials say that this channel influences their store choices.

To get more shoppers to use digital channels, Nielsen analysts recommend that marketers play on the strengths of digital as a ‘pull’ media format. Consumers must be lured to websites or social media sites and begin to engage there and then be influenced to patronize a specific store. Successful strategies range from customized experiences to high engagement to pinpoint offers. Despite these tactics, it may take marketers a while to get consumers to migrate from printed circulars.

[Source: The Evolution of Circulars: Q4, 2011. Nielsen​.com. Web. 15 Dec. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.