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Flipp shared its 10th annual Flyer readership study in Canada.
Flipp shared its 10th annual Flyer readership study in Canada.

Read all about it! Decades ago, that phrase was used at street level to hawk newspapers. Fast forward, the grocery flyer, printed or digital, is still the most sought after barometer for what’s happening in the produce marketplace. For most conventional stores, the items in the flyer can represent 20-30 per cent of total weekly sales.


Yes, that’s a big number. When print media was a powerful tool, food stores learned quickly some hot deals would drive traffic into their stores. We used to create the flyer and send negatives to the printer each week. This was a very manual process that involved long lead times. As the technology evolved, digital took over and now the number of printed flyers is very small. Many consumers do not want printed flyers, retailers like the cost savings and regulators are trying to reduce the amount of paper being used.


With the evolution to digital, the store flyer allows grocers to be more nimble. Retailers continue to invest significant resources to create flyers, invest in gross margin and invest in labour to change prices and merchandising at store level to support the ad.


The flyers have several purposes:


Use item and price to drive store traffic


Grocers use the flyer to reinforce the positioning of the format. If the store wants to be known for quality perishables, then they will be in prominent positions with information about their origin and how they are better. They will try to reinforce this message every week.


Grocers also use this tactic to force merchandising execution at retail. Stores can become boring to shop and it has been proven that great displays can entice consumers to buy. The continuous change in featured items provides the store with the opportunity to freshen displays and cross merchandise.


Deliver year-over-year sales increases


When retailers are creating the plan for a specific week, they all review the sales dollars on flyer items in the previous year. If they invested a lot to drive significant sales on a few items, the merchants know they need a similar plan for the current year. Even if the sales were made up from a few items with significant discounts in the ad, they will be trying to deliver year-over-year growth.


Use digital to reach younger consumers


With the shift to digital distribution of flyers, we have seen a number of smart phone applications and websites to help consumers find the best deals and save time. Applications such as Flipp, Redflagdeals.comand are all examples of this new world.


Recently, Flipp shared its 10th annual Flyer readership study in Canada. The company outlines some of the contrasts between digital and print and share who is reading flyers.


The data in the study was generated from interviews of 4,200 Canadian consumers, who identified themselves as the primary grocery shopper in the household. Overall, 84 per cent of shoppers said they read flyers, which is down from 87 per cent in 2022 and 86 per cent in 2023. The biggest decreases were in Québec and Ontario, where the distribution of printed flyers has been reduced significantly.


It should be no surprise, the older the consumer is, the more likely they are to read a flyer and the more likely they are to use a printed flyer. Three-quarters of Gen-Z shoppers are using digital flyers whereas only half of boomers are relying on the new medium.


Considerations for suppliers when their item is in the flyer

For category managers, selecting items for the flyer is an important job. Ad sales are significant and every department has to take their turn to drive traffic. Some produce items at the right time, with the right price, can win the week. Retailers believe there is a certain percentage of the market up for grabs every week. If they win the ad, they believe these consumers will shop their store first. They might go back to their regular store but if you can get them in the door, you can get them to buy more and perhaps convert them.

If your item is a commodity where retailers have a number of suppliers, they will select the item based on seasonality, pricing and what they call X factor. The item should be at its peak for taste and shelf life, and be what consumers want that time of year (ie. sweet corn in August). This perishable item should be priced right to get people to go across the street. The X factor is the sales lift. This is what they are looking for and it is incredible to see the change in volume for items when they are in the ad. Some can increase  eight to 10 times (8X-10X) regular weekly movement.

If you are supplying a perishable commodity that’s selected for the flyer, understand that category managers will be looking for the best price and to ensure you have supply. Communication is very important to ensure both parties agree about the volume required. This is a challenge for everyone in the value chain. Most retailers are working at least seven weeks out for item selection. If you know your item should be coming up in the ad and you have not received notification, ask your customer. You need to know and there is a much greater chance of disappointing them if you do not have the right lead time to prepare.


If you have a value-added, branded item you will need to submit it for a spot in the flyer. This process starts more than seven weeks out and you should include this in the marketing and sales plan you negotiate with your customer. You know best when it’s the most opportune time to promote the item. Do not wait for the category manager to figure it out. Explain why the item should be in the ad and remember that is about the customer, not your business. What will your item do for them? Most retailers require each block in the flyer to deliver a certain amount of sales.


Once your item is selected,  confirm there is enough inventory to support the sales projection you and your customer are promoting in the ad. Make sure the inventory is flowing through the system properly to the stores. Ad stock does not sell in the warehouse. Visit the stores the week before and the week of the ad. Talk to them. Make sure the product is on display and help the employees at store level see the benefits of your products.


Weekly flyers are important to retailers


Every week retailers make significant investments in the flyer. Suppliers should monitor the ads and track the items in your department. Review the level of discounts and how often your items are there, compared to your competition. You can also compare the flyers from one customer to another to see what they are doing. With digital distribution, you can do all of this from your desk. It is a great task for someone learning your business. Let them summarize the information and report their findings to the group.


More than 80 per cent of consumers read flyers every week. You should too. Flyers continue to be at the heart of grocers’ communications with consumers.



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Submitted by Peter Chapman on 25 June 2024