Enlightening PRIMIR Research Investigates Retail Advertising and Print's Role

Press release from the issuing company

Focus on Catalogs, Circulars, Newspapers, Magazines and Direct Mail

Reston, VA - PRIMIR, the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization, the research unit of NPES, announces completion of the research study: "The Future of Retail Advertising."

Retail advertising is a major end-use segment for the printing industry. While retailers use a variety of media—differing widely depending upon the type of retailer—major print markets include catalogs, circulars (flyers and inserts), newspapers, magazines, and direct mail. Of the total $80.5 billion in 2013 retail advertising spending, print accounts for about $37.5 billion, not including in-store and out-of-home. Retail sales account for more than one-fourth of the U.S. economy. Growth in retail sales is generally steady and predictable, dependent primarily on the overall economy and consumer income. Retail sales recovered in 2010 after the 2008-2009 recession. Barring another severe recession, retail spending is expected to continue at a steady pace.

According to John Zarwan of J Zarwan Partners, the study's author, changes in "the path to purchase" are causing numerous changes to retailers advertising strategies. The consumer purchasing pathway is more fragmented than ever before. Digital's impact is greatest in the early stages of the purchasing pathway, when consumers are discovering brands and searching for product options. Consumers regularly switch back and forth between digital and physical channels, and they interact digitally both in and outside of stores.

Thus, retailers are being driven to engage with customers differently due to technological innovations, and to create different experiences during that engagement. With customers accessing multiple channels to complete a purchase, all channels must work seamlessly to support the brand and the experience. Retailers still are in the early stages of harnessing the Internet's potential and online growth and penetration among retail sectors varies widely.

To most, "retail" implies circulars and catalogs. While these still play a central role in driving traffic, changes in format, page counts, and distribution, call for more flexible pressroom and finishing equipment, lighter or lower quality substrates and innovative input from printers.

The reinstatement of catalogs by a number of major retailers and their use by "hip" e-commerce sites speaks to the power of print. Other forms of print also play a role. While a relatively small part of the retailer's ad budget, in-store provides an opportunity. However, in-store will be funded as long as there are physical retail locations.

Predictions indicate that direct mail's overall share of retail spending will decrease. Loyalty programs remain a major opportunity for print, but are most successful as part of an omnichannel strategy, incorporating digital media, as well as print. Integrating customer communications and knowing which customers will respond best to direct mail will be an increasingly important component of the omnichannel marketer.

Despite volume declines, print buyers indicated a positive perception of print's value because of its ability to target specific markets and address many needs and market levels. The PRIMIR research also indicates that little of the projected print volume decline can be traced to competition from non-print technology. 

The report concludes that the printing industry can maintain a strong market in retail by proving how a print component can generate profitable sales by the most loyal customers. 

This research study, "The Future of Retail Advertising," was distributed to all PRIMIR members. For more information contact Rekha Ratnam, Assistant Director, Market Data/Research, at phone: 703/264-7200, e-mail: [email protected], or visit: www.primir.org.


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