Topics & themes

Research on advertising’s larger topics and themes from audience attention to measuring effectiveness.

Sector report: Retail

From fashion and cosmetics to furniture and fridges, the retail category is all encompassing (in this case, we’re excluding grocers and supermarkets. You can read analysis of the grocery sector here).

The shopping landscape may be evolving with innovations like contactless payments and online shopping, but newspapers’ long-established relationship with the industry has stood the test of time. Retail editorial continues to be a crucial part of newsbrands and readers still turn to newsbrands and their advertising for expert opinion and recommendations, whether it be for inspiration, product reviews or seasonal gift guides.

We know from our ‘How people buy’ that there is no set formula when it comes to retail purchases: they can be spontaneous or planned out; the purchase can be urgent or the customer may come back at a later date. We also know that newsbrands can trigger the purchase journey by shaping perceptions – readers are semi-consciously absorbing information on products, brands and retailers before they enter the purchase funnel.

Newspapers continue to be an important advertising medium for retailers. According to Benchmarketing’s analysis of econometrics models, adding print newsbrands to the media mix in the retail category improves overall campaign revenue return on investment (RROI) by a factor of 2.8.

However, using RAMetrics data, we can see that when it comes to retail advertising, brands have some room for improvement. Print ads for the retail category are less impactful than ads across all categories (65% vs 67% ad recall for all categories) and as a result they score below average across almost all brand measures.

Given that not everyone is always giving their full attention, we thought we would look at how the ads performed among the people who did. Those who noticed the ads scored well for recognition metrics – finding the advertising more familiar (63% vs 55% for all ads) and recognising the brands (branding: 43% vs 36% for all categories).

As we’re focusing on retailers excluding grocers, we thought it was worth a comparison between the two. Ads by non-grocery retailers are slightly underperforming compared to grocery retailers (65% vs 67% ad recall for grocery retailers). When comparing retailers with all ads , they also score lower across all brand and action measures –readers are far less likely to find them interesting (27% vs 36% for all ads) and even less appealing (23% vs 35% for all ads).

Similarly, when looking at ads on the front page, we found that the retail category could be doing more to make their ads memorable (70% vs 73% ad recall for all ads). However, when it comes to recognition, readers are more likely to recognise front page ads from retail brands than non-retail brands (branding: 33% vs 30% for all ads).

Furthermore, retail ads that are on the front page of the newspaper, outperform retail ads which are in the rest of the newspaper (70% vs 60% ad recall), particularly against engagement metrics. Readers are more likely to find the ads easier to understand (44% vs 39% for retail ads in the rest of the newspaper) and they also think that the brand has taken a fresh approach (31% vs 27% for retail ads in the rest of the newspaper).

Lumen eye-tracking shows that readers’ viewing is biased towards right-hand pages of a spread and adverts on the right are seen more: 94% see full-page ads on right-hand pages, 89% view when on a left-hand page. RAMetrics confirms these findings for retailers (65% vs 56% ad recall for left-hand side ads). We also found that right-hand ads score better for attention (23% vs 19% for left-hand side), tend to be more engaging (like ad: 25% vs 22% for left-hand side ads) and evoke more of an emotional response (19% vs 9% for left-hand side ads). Both sides have closer for action measures such as ‘likelihood of visiting the advertiser’ (12% vs 13% for left-hand side ads) and recommend (21% for both).

Traditionally, we assume that price-based advertising is more effective at prompting action whereas image-based advertising is better at altering consumer perceptions and having an emotional impact. For retail brands, image-based advertising’s performance is superior to price-based (63% vs 59% ad recall for price-based ads) and demands more attention (22% vs 15% for price-based ads). Taking a closer look at some brand metrics, readers are more likely to find image-based ads beneficial (13% vs 10% for price-based ads), more emotional (19% vs 7% for price-based ads) and more appealing (23% vs 20% for price-based ads).

Looking at gender segmentation, female readers are more likely to notice print ads for retailers (ad recall: 68% vs 62% for men). In fact, women score significantly higher against all metrics. They are more likely to pay attention (29% vs 19% for men), more likely to be familiar with the brand (46% vs 37% for men), find the ads easier to understand (47% vs 38% for men) and are more likely to talk about the brand (discuss: 14% vs 10% for men).

So what about different age groups? How do young people (18-34-year olds) and adults aged 35+, respond to retail ads in newspapers? Interestingly, 18-34s score significantly higher than the over 35s across every brand measure. Not only are they more likely to notice print ads from retailers (ad recall: 78% vs 63% for 35+), they are also more likely to have positive feelings towards the advertiser (45% vs 25% for 35+) and take action (recommend: 47% vs 16% for 35+).

Finally, digital ads from retailers are more noticeable than ads across other categories (ad recall: 30% vs 27% for all ads), however they’re considered to be slightly less engaging (appeals to me: 11% vs 13%, new information: 12% vs 13% for all ads).

Looking at female readers, we found that they were more likely to recall digital ads for retail brands than non-retail brands (30% vs 28% for all ads). Similarly, young people (18-34s) performed much better in the retail category (38% vs 29% ad recall for all ads) for online newsbrand ads. The young are more likely to be familiar with the retailer (24% vs 19% for all ads) and to think that the brand has taken a fresh approach (18% vs 15% for all ads). In addition, 18-34s are also more likely to take action by looking for more information (14% vs 10% for all ads) and visiting the advertisers’ website (14% vs 12% for all ads).

View more RAMetrics insight 

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