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What follows the flyer? 5 takeaways from Retail Flyer Forum 2018

Seize Digital
Author: Anthony Stevenson

Our team had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Retail Council of Canada’s 2018 Retail Flyer Forum last month in Toronto. We had great conversations and made connections with leaders from across the retail spectrum, and we heard many intriguing perspectives from our fellow industry panelists and speakers. Most importantly, we were impressed by how receptive Canadian retailers are to new ways of thinking about customer engagement, and incorporating time-honored traditional channels like the flyer with digital and mobile promotional strategies.

Here are our five key takeaways from the event:

The persistent power of the flyer

The flyer is important to Canadians – 76% of the population still reads flyers, and some retailers still see it as their single most relevant marketing tool. In fact, one of the event’s featured panel discussions explored the ongoing role of traditional printed flyers and catalogues, and how these continue to be successful channels for many retailers, particularly in the grocery sector. 

But at the same time, retailers recognise that the flyer is shifting from a mass promotion tool to being just one part of the path to purchase. The flyer isn’t going away anytime soon, and as retailers begin to figure out its appropriate role in their overall marketing strategy, the flyer is certainly going to change.

From retention to acquisition

Historically, the flyer was perceived as a retention tool, a way to keep a retail brand top-of-mind for existing customers and driving them back to the store. Now, as more retailers adopt a digital approach to flyers, they can be leveraged as acquisition tools as well. “Going digital” allows retailers to connect to different consumers in different ways, targeting new customer types and expanding their markets. One panel, “Grocery: The Leaders of Flyer Innovation,” demonstrated how grocers are increasingly leveraging digital weekly flyers to reach new digital- and mobile-first customers.

Personalisation, search and discovery

Of course, digital flyers are just the beginning. Eagle Eye participated in a panel alongside Google Canada, Facebook Canada and reebee, discussing the advantages retailers have when they combine personalisation with their digital assets and how to multiply the effect of traditional channels like the flyer. Canadian consumers still love the thrill of the hunt – finding deals, locating the perfect product – but the nature of that search and discovery process has changed dramatically. Retailers, with the right technology that makes use of the customer data they already have, can send personalised offers and suggestions to customers before they even begin their search. This is the future of the flyer, and of retail itself… and the good news is, it’s already here.

Starting with digital

At the Forum, we met many new entrants to the retail market that have gone straight to the digital flyer. These retailers are prepared to experiment in order to compete with online-only retailers and global giants like Amazon, and their experiments are leading them to develop relevant, tailored outreach rather than mass-market promotion. These retailers focus on the mobile channel, viewing it as a utility, and as an extension are reimagining what the flyer can be, and what it can deliver.

An incremental approach to omni-channel marketing

While one of our biggest takeaways from the Forum was that retailers are taking the flyer in an omni-channel direction, we felt it was important to note that retailers are moving at their own pace. Not every retailer is tearing down their existing marketing strategy and investing in do-it-all technology systems to connect every stream of customer data and facilitate personalised engagement. In fact, most are simply augmenting what works for them – often the traditional flyer – with incremental moves toward digital, social and mobile outreach. Some grocers are offering digital flyers alongside their printed ones. Other retailers are utilizing limited customer identification points – collecting email addresses for a promotion, for instance – to track customer activity and implement small-scale personalisation initiatives. As the Retail Flyer Forum demonstrated, customer engagement is not an all-or-nothing proposition; it’s an evolution.

If your retail business could benefit from a digital approach to offers, promotions and overall marketing, Eagle Eye’s platform could be the solution you’re looking for. Contact us to learn more.