Insert choices vary by industry
Different verticals benefit from different types of insert media programs, depending on the lifestyles and habits of their target audience. Four experts comment on specific sectors.
EVP, Singer Direct
There are many ways to approach the health, wellness and fitness space. For example, there are active sports catalog insert programs specific to certain sectors, such as athletic wear or shoes, as well as those geared more to lifestyle and outdoor sports, such as golf or hunting catalogs. Finally, vitamin and health supplement catalogs add another dimension to available options.
Inserts can also be distributed at certain fitness classes or gyms, tied to yoga or exercise programs. Marathons or charity walks are another distribution point — marketers can distribute product samples or coupons to participants when they pick up their registration information. There are also magazine- and book-related programs, such as Men's Health and Prevention.
Although it is possible to target very precisely, marketers can sometimes limit themselves by being too narrow when choosing specific insert programs. One might have something he or she feels is geared toward a hunter, but might also relate to a fisherman — so, it is advisable to target more broadly.
Marketers tend to overlook fitness-type programs because they might not appear to be directly relevant to their product or brand. However, this audience represents consumers who are very engaged in their favorite activities and look forward to receiving catalogs or products. Basically, they read catalogs like magazines, and you'll often find that these can be among the more responsive programs in your campaign.
This space is beginning to attract a lot of activity from major brand names. We're beginning to see a new group of advertisers that ranges from automotive companies who market SUVs to rugged, outdoors types, to health and beauty advertisers looking to extend their marketing reach with new media opportunities. This expansion is bringing a fresh look to the insert world.
Health and fitness buffs look forward to receiving specific catalogs and products
Director of marketing research, Vertis Communications
As the American economy continues its slide, consumers are more sensitive to prices when grocery shopping. Because consumers rely heavily on discounts, marketers must reach consumers in the medium where they most often go to find those deals.
Vertis' Customer Focus 2008: Grocery study shows that the advertising insert is the most influential medium when making grocery purchase decisions, and is the first media chosen among the most coveted demographic — female chief shoppers, ages 18 to 49 — when it's time to buy.
So, what should a savvy grocery marketer know when it comes to developing an insert campaign?
Because consumers stock up, bundle shopping trips and research prior to making a purchase, grocery advertisers should provide more content than usual to help consumers plan and maximize shopping trips. Also, because consumers shop less often and predicting visits has become more difficult, grocers need to increase the frequency of their messages to ensure their timeliness.
Customer data has become even more important. Though grocers understand that everyone needs to eat, not everyone is a core customer. Research, customer data and geography must be merged to refine insert distribution, increase the long-term value of the most profitable customers and gain loyalty from secondary or tertiary customers.
An increasing number of consumers say they will use coupons to save money, and inserts are the first place they will look to find them. Therefore, marketers should look to include coupons in inserts whenever possible, because they motivate purchase and are easily tracked to measure effectiveness.
Although 60% of consumers are cutting back and many are switching to less expensive products, grocers need to stand firm. Making drastic changes to a brand or product offering can be harmful in the long term. Conversely, not offering enough special offers to consumers will impact grocers negatively.
Grocery consumers look at inserts first, and are increasing their coupon usage
Senior account executive, Leon Henry
In today's highly competitive marketplace, brokers must creatively cultivate new areas of opportunity for their clients — especially vertical market mailers. When working with gardening mailers, marketers must continually seek to create new program opportunities and channels.
If a mailer is having success with a particular insert media program and that company offers additional outlets to a proven audience — such as through a blow-in or statement insert program — we strongly recommend that mailers test. Considering the gardening products being offered, as well as the type of offer (free, inquiry or sale), will help define the insert programs to use.
Hybrid advertising — sharing a cost with another non-competitive mailer — is another effective way to reach your mailer's market. This allows both advertisers to save on printing, shipping and insertion.
While gardeners in the US are a varied lot, as a hobby, gardening tends to take root among a slightly older demographic — usually men and women with the needed time to maintain a successful garden. This valuable audience tends to live in suburban or rural areas. Plus, because gardening is both a healthy and a productive hobby, many gardeners share other interests, such as cooking, crafting, quilting, scrapbooking, fishing and woodworking. Armed with this knowledge, a good broker can zero in on those insert programs that reach similar universes.
Marketers should always look for customers outside of the product demographics for their mailers. For example, if a mailer is consumer-focused, there might be opportunities in the business sector, and vice versa. The key is to test.
Gardeners tend to be a slightly older demographic with other shared interests
SVP, Estee Marketing Group
Insert media can be a valuable option for a number of companies with a niche offer for prospective customers. If an offer is targeted to the auto market, there are already several dozen package insert, statement insert and catalog blow-in programs available, such as aftermarket auto products, magazine subscriptions and collectibles, as well as insurance and club memberships.
Not all available programs will be suited for a specific offer. For instance, a company could offer a product or service that appeals to owners of classic cars. There are some obvious programs on the market that it will want to test. If direct mail is also used, there are lists that will augment its marketing efforts.
A Web search will uncover many more companies in the target audience. Though their privacy policies will often reveal that they do not make their mailing lists available, they are good prospects for an insert program — but it takes some leg work by the broker to contact these companies and convince them to accept an insert.
The benefit for the advertiser is the potential reach new untapped markets with its offer. The inserting company not only receives payment for the insertion, but will present non-competitive offers that will appeal to its customers.
Insert media will also allow the advertiser to test some secondary markets at a much lower financial risk than direct mail. For the automotive market, where the target audience is men over age 30, a variety of programs can be explored. The more general the offer, the wider appeal it will have.
By using existing programs and looking for new insert opportunities, companies in the automotive marketplace can get their message out to potential customers in their field — as well as explore new markets.
For marketers targeting car owners, there are dozens of insert program options