Sector report: Supermarkets

Insight from RAMetrics

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Over the last few years we have seen shopping habits evolve, be it due to self-service tills, contactless payments or online shopping. Likewise supermarket retailers have been successfully diversifying their offerings, by dipping their toes into other products and services such as telecoms, non-grocery retail (clothes, homeware etc.) and even finance, however food produce remains at the heart of the supermarket.

Our How people buy research shows that grocery purchases are neither urgent nor planned for most people; newsbrands can a trigger a journey start and shape perceptions because readers are semi-consciously absorbing information on products, brands and retailers before they enter the purchase funnel.

As such, newspapers continue to be a strong advertising medium for supermarket brands. We know from The ROI study that adding print newsbrands to the media mix in the supermarket category improves overall campaign revenue return on investment (RROI) by a factor of 2.8. Despite this, supermarket brands are underspending in newsbrands. In fact, Benchmarketing’s recent analysis of 684 econometric models, focusing on profit return on investment, shows that brands in the supermarket category are missing out on a mammoth £246 million of potential profit through underinvesting in newsbrands.

Using RAMetrics data, we can see that when it comes to print advertising, supermarkets are on the ball. Scoring on par with the average for ad recall (65% vs 65% for all ads), and above average across all brand and action measures such as likeability (32% vs 28% for all ads), evoking positive feelings (37% vs 30% for all ads) and prompting readers to visit the advertiser’s website (22% vs 13% for all ads). Those who notice ads for supermarkets score particularly well for familiarity (82% vs 63% for all ads) – finding them much easier to understand than most ads and also more likely to encourage purchases and recommendations.

Traditionally, we assume that image-based advertising is more effective at altering consumer perceptions and has more of an emotional impact, whereas price-based advertising is more effective at prompting action. When it comes to print advertising for supermarkets, price-based ads are much more common than image-based ads, they perform well and readers tend to find them more beneficial (25% vs 21% for image-based ads). Plus readers find them easier to understand (53% vs 51% for image-based ads).

Does size matter? Is bigger better? From Lumen we know that full page ads are viewed by more people and have higher dwell time vs half page ads. RAMetrics data shows that for supermarkets, full page ads are definitely noticed more, and when it comes to ad recall, bigger is definitely better (65% vs 60% for half page ads). Full page ads provoke more of an emotional response (20% vs 17% for half page ads), they also encourage readers to make recommendations (29% vs 22% for half page ads) and create conversation around the brand (discuss: 13% vs 8% for half page ads). Half page supermarket ads on the other hand, tend to be easier to recognise as readers find the branding more effective (36% vs 46% for half page ads).

Lumen eye-tracking also 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 left-hand page. RAMetrics corroborates these findings for supermarkets. We found that right-hand ads score better for attention, recognition and engagement, and they’re a lot more common than left-hand ads. Readers find right-hand ads for supermarkets more interesting (37% vs 31% for left-hand side ads), more likeable (35% vs 30% for left-hand side ads) and easier to understand (56% vs 48% for left-hand side ads). Left-hand and right-hand ads evoke the same emotional response but have marginally different scores for action measures such as discuss (15% vs 13% for left-hand side ads) and recommend (29% vs 27% for left-hand side ads).

Next we tackled gender segmentation, because when it comes to grocery shopping, women traditionally tend to carry the weight. In fact, according to the latest NRS PADD data, a substantial 86% of all women over 18 are classified as main shoppers, compared with 63% of men. Given this gender bias, it’s not surprising that female readers are more likely to notice ads for supermarket ads (68% vs 64% for men). They respond more positively across all brand and action measures in comparison to men, especially against engagement metrics (appeals to me: 39% vs 29% for men, fresh approach: 40% vs 30% for men).

We looked at two age groups, 18-34s and adults aged 35+. Surprisingly, the younger group score significantly higher than the over 35s across all brand measures. They are more likely to be paying attention to supermarket ads (ad recall: 71% vs 65% for 35+), and are more likely to recognise the brands (branding: 40% vs 36% for 35+, familiarity: 59% vs 54% for 35+), they also are more likely to be engaged (positive: 53% vs 35% for 35+) and take action (visit advertiser: 35% vs 21% for 35+).

Finally, how do the supermarket print ads stack up against the averages for print ads across all categories, specifically for 18-34s? Supermarket ads have slightly lower impact (ad recall: 71% vs 75% for all categories) but score better across most brand measures, they encourage 18-34s to look for more information (36% vs 29% for all ads), and are more likely to make recommendations (47% vs 40% for all ads).

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