Top media influencing women in their apparel purchases.
People still read, and what they are reading is sinking in, according to a recent study conducted by retail research firm BIGresearch. The firm surveyed female department store shoppers on what media outlets were an influence on them when making women’s apparel purchases — and three of the top four winners are some type of print medium, the top honors going to newspaper inserts. All those inserts in the Sunday paper? Well, they have a purpose and an effect. “Think about the vast number of inserts we see each week,” said Gary Drenik, president and chief executive officer of BIGresearch. “There are so many of them, and readers have been trained to look there.” Some of the newer forms of advertising that are moving up in the rankings include both in-store advertising and word of mouth — two forms of persuasion that BIGresearch believes will continue to dominate the advertising world for retailers.
1. Newspaper Inserts
Percentage of women department store shoppers who say this influences their apparel purchases: 44.4
It’s a tradition each Sunday: You open your extra-thick newspaper, only to witness several glossy advertisements spill into your lap, just hoping to be read. Though a majority of inserts are devoted to grocery retailers, apparel retailers such as Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Target (as seen to the left) have taken on inserts as a popular form of advertising. In a bold move by Gap this past holiday season, the retailer, which is struggling to reverse slumping sales of late, abandoned all television advertising in favor of newspaper inserts and mini catalogues.
2. Word of Mouth
It may not be the classic media outlet, but BIGresearch found word of mouth to be one of the most influential forms of advertising today. “If people shop somewhere and have a great experience, they tell their friends. Word of mouth comes from good customer service. Not to mention, it’s free advertising for the retailers,” said Gary Drenik of BIGresearch. One of the great word-of-mouth success stories has been Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear, the privately owned discount chain that sells lifestyle apparel for less than $10 per item. WWD reported in October that the college campus and Midwest mall retailer has brought the brand to Manhattan as part of a Northeast expansion plan. In 2006, the company plans to double the number of stores to more than 200.
3. Direct Mail
Direct mail — or advertisements that are sent directly to prospective customers via the mail — are still a form of influence for retailers today. United Retail Group, who owns plus-size fashion retailer Avenue, told WWD in November of the company’s plans to expand the chain, which included a strong push in advertising. “We’ve invested in enlarging our customer database to know more and more who they are and what they want to find at Avenue, including a big emphasis on direct mail,” said Raphael Benaroya, chairman and chief executive officer at URG.
According to the Magazine Publishers of America, the top reasons to advertise in magazines include the ability to “hone in on a specific demographic.” Across all these demographics, the most devoted magazine reader is reported to have heavy spending habits, making this an important medium for fashion advertisers. In September, WWD profiled the top women’s fashion magazines with the most apparel and accessories advertising pages from the sector. The bridal business took the cake for the most ads; in fact, three of the top five publications went to bridal publications. And, in an attempt to reach out to fashionable shoppers last fall, Wal-Mart surprised the fashion world by advertising in Ellegirl and Vogue (Vogue, like WWD, is owned by Condé Nast Publications).
5. In-store Promotions
One of the true advantages of in-store promotions is that they are a foolproof way to get shoppers to see your ads. A retailer that has expanded the concept of in-store promotions is the largest retailer in the world: Wal-Mart. Televisions have been placed throughout hundreds of Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. in an effort to beef up in-store advertising for shoppers. A study conducted by TNS Media Intelligence last year found that, out of 5,500 Wal-Mart shoppers asked, 85 percent planned on purchasing the advertised product(s) “today,” and 15 percent planned on purchasing the product(s) “in the future.” WWD reported in November that Target, J.C. Penney, H&M and Zara are among other retailers also expected to pioneer screen-based marketing in their stores.
A survey taken this month by NCH Marketing Services reported that 75 percent of all consumers from all income brackets still use coupons. Offered first by Post Cereals, coupons are no longer just for grocery retailers. They now provide consumers with a way to save money by entering codes online for everything from a Dell desktop computer to books to apparel. These coupons, used by Chico’s, Kohl’s and other retailers — influence consumers to return to stores and spend more money.
Television is still a useful tool for advertisers, but because of the increasing amount of channels — and with the addition of new technologies such as Tivo — advertisers have a harder time keeping viewers watching during commercials. Nevertheless, time spent watching TV per day continues to increase. During the fourth quarter of 2005, Bridge Ratings found that adults, ages 25 to 49, were spending an average of 4.5 hours watching TV each day, which is a 25 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2004. J.C. Penney, which is continuing to revive its image by taking a more fashion-forward approach, also has embarked on a more aggressive marketing campaign, including TV ads, to attract more fashionable consumers.
Newspapers are still a great resource among adults with household incomes of more than $75,000, whose readership is 55 percent on weekdays and 65 percent on Sundays, according to Mediamark Research. Retailers such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney still use this lower-cost form of advertising to announce big sales and offer cutout coupons. And department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman feature both black-and-white and color advertisements in national papers such as The New York Times. But because of the popularity of newspaper inserts each week, the use of newspaper ads is not as strong an advertising form as some other methods.
9. E-mail Advertising
With free access available to everyone via Yahoo and Hotmail, it is no wonder that businesses have begun to advertise through e-mail. This affordable advertising not only allows companies to personally reach target customers, but also to track e-mailed ads’ influence on sales. A recent survey taken by Emarketer found that 77 percent of consumers want to receive offers from the marketplace. Point proven: The Wall Street Journal reported in November that women were immediately calling to purchase shoes after receiving an e-mail sent out by Prada to announce the arrival of new styles.
10. Internet Advertising
It’s the age of the Internet, and if consumers are online (which they probably are), you can bet businesses will be, too. Not only is advertising on the Internet inexpensive, but it can be conveniently tailored to fit the online consumer at the click of a mouse. In fact, according to Ezinearticles.com, the five most powerful forms of Internet advertising are search engine listings, Web site ads, e-zine ads and free reprint promotions. And, in December, Google Inc. announced a deal to buy a 5 percent stake in AOL for $1 billion in an effort to expand an advertising alliance between the two Internet giants. Google has long been known for its white space and text-only ads, but the search engine plans to feature flashy, graphical banners on certain pages, including the image and video search pages.
Source: BIGresearch’s Simultaneous Media Usage Survey (SIMMVII), December 2005