A Classic Example of
How Grocery Advertising Works

I hate to admit this, but I’m a bit of a BBQ/Grilling snob.  I love preparing great food outdoors using the latest methods and recipes.  I recently purchased a new pellet smoker and have been on the lookout for something new to cook. Last week I received a couple of grocery circulars in the mail and both featured fresh wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Perfect. I have always wanted to prepare cedar plank salmon and using the new grill seemed like an ideal opportunity.

The ads I saw were from Safeway and Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer’s advertised price was $2/lb less than Safeway. I knew I wanted about five pounds, so I chose Fred Meyer. Hey, 10 bucks is 10 bucks. The fish was beautiful and turned out great. But there’s more to the story.

It turns out I’m a classic example of how grocery advertising works.  Here’s what happened:

Lesson #1:  My Decision Was Influenced by a Printed Circular that Arrived at My House.

I received two grocery circulars in the mail, and as consumers have been doing for decades, I looked at them. It’s human nature. We all look to see what’s on sale. But here is the interesting part, my decision on what to cook was inspired by something I saw in a grocery ad. That’s powerful. I saw something and it triggered a reaction that made me want to buy it. That’s advertising 101.

When choosing where to buy my salmon, I only considered Safeway and Fred Meyer. Why? Because I didn’t get a circular from Whole Foods, New Seasons, Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, or Grocery Outlet. All stores within easy shopping distance for me. I’m sure all these other stores had salmon but was it on sale, was it fresh, was it Alaskan? I didn’t know. I could have taken the extra time to go online and research all the options, but who does that? I chose where to shop based on what was in front of me. Out of sight, out of mind? Distributing printed circulars will continue to influence consumer’s shopping decisions.

The simple fact is more buyers will visit your store when you distribute circulars than if you don’t. 

Follow the Science

University Research Verifies the Power of Print

  • Direct Mail holds our attention longer. Young and old spend more time reviewing print media than digital.
  • Direct Mail elicits a stronger emotional response, leaving a longer-lasting impact.
  • Direct Mail is more memorable. All age groups more quickly and confidently remember the content of print advertising.
  • Direct Mail produces greater desire. We place a higher subconscious value on products or services we see in print ads.

To read the entire study, go here:

Lesson #2: Promotional Pricing Works.

My salmon was advertised front page, above the fold, and on sale. It was featured with other meats, some fresh produce, and a few center-store items. It got my attention, but more importantly, it got me into the store. That’s the goal, right?

From there, I did what most consumers do. I shopped for my main item and picked up other things that I hadn’t planned on buying. This is the classic loss leader scenario. Get people into the store, and they can’t help but buy other non-sale items.

This was precisely the case with me. I picked out my salmon and then proceeded to cruise the isles to see if there were other things I needed. Bottom line? I spent an additional $45 above and beyond the cost of the salmon. It bothers me a little that my response was so predictable.

But it clearly demonstrates the time-tested principle of using promotional advertising to drive traffic and increase basket size.

Lesson # 3: Advertise Multiple Items

Variety is the spice of life. You never know what people want to buy. When you include a wide variety of items in your ads, you increase your odds that something will appeal to shoppers. The ad I saw was a six-page standard with a gatefold, plenty of room to include lots of items. More items mean more opportunities to attract a customer.

I know supply chain issues have challenged retailers recently, but don’t let that deter you from advertising. I had one other item on my shopping list, small cans of apple juice. I like to use them when smoking ribs. Well, they didn’t have them. Was I crushed? No, maybe a little disappointed, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I didn’t complain to the manager or decide I was never going to shop there again.

Don’t be afraid to advertise because an out-of-stock item might disappoint a customer. These are new times and we all get that things are different now.

Is all this new information? Maybe for some, but for most of us, it’s more of a confirmation that a proven advertising practice that worked before the pandemic still performs after the pandemic. Society has experienced many changes in the last 18 months, but the fundamentals of print marketing and how consumers respond to it are still reliable and can grow your business. Print Still Sells.

Yes, we sell print advertising. It’s our core business and will remain as such for years to come.  Not only do we believe in print, but more and more retailers are gearing up to put print back into the mix. And for those who jumped back in early they have reaped the benefits of increased market share and revenue. (Particularly Safeway and Fred Meyer) There is still time to benefit from the power of print; just don’t be the last one to the party.

Speaking of parties, the salmon was a hit, and I highly recommend an orange balsamic glaze with your grilled salmon.

If you would like to consult with us regarding your advertising needs, we would be pleased to discuss the multiple options we can use to help grow and sustain your business. Here’s a sample of our capabilities:

As you can see, we are a complete media solution. If you have a challenge, let’s talk.  We have been doing this for a long time. There’s a good chance we have helped others with a similar challenge.