By Catherine Campbell, Head of Multi Channel Retail at Royal Mail
In today’s congested retail market, where consumers are overwhelmed by choice, the best price and constantly inundated with marketing messages, it is imperative for brands to understand the channels their customers prefer to use.
Since consumers now have a greater choice of media to engage with and a stronger control over what they receive, marketers need to be extremely savvy when considering the best strategy.
Often a more integrated approach, such as employing the use of customer magazines and direct mail to keep customers updated with regular offers, combined with digital and above the line activity is the most effective approach.
By using a variety of channels, marketers are able to ensure optimum reach and can target different customer groups with offers or communications that best suit their profiles.
With H&M’s launch of its new chain of stores ‘Collection of Style’ (or brand COS), adopting an integrated marketing strategy and collating in-depth customer insight is crucial for them to create strong brand awareness and customer loyalty in this already busy marketplace.
Retail brands in general are also conscious of the need, in such a fiercely competitive arena, to build greater long term loyalty. As a result, the use of customer magazines has grown at a phenomenal rate (accounting for 15% of the whole market), proving themselves to be an integral part of the marketing mix.
They are not only a highly personalised tool, but also a powerful way of generating sales, raising brand awareness as well as increasing customer loyalty. Recent research by the APA revealed that 32 per cent of consumers were more committed to a brand after reading a customer magazine and 44 per cent were inspired to interact with a brand as a direct result.
The majority of magazine titles are also distributed through the post, which guarantees to brands that they can reach all of their customers since Royal Mail delivers to every postcode in the UK.
High street brands such as M&S, John Lewis and Debenhams all produce customer magazines, with online brands ASOS.com (As Seen on Screen) and lastminute.com now following suit and employing them to position and build their brand as well as improve customer loyalty.
The APA's latest Advantage Study results are also testament to the success of customer magazines. They are not only adept at allowing brands to communicate with hard to reach audiences but also a powerful medium in achieving a high response rate and improving brand perception across a range of sectors and ages.
For example, in the retail sector, there is a substantial difference in attitudes between men and women in how relevant they think a brand is for them (men 61 per cent and women 71 per cent).
However the picture changes dramatically among readers of retail customer magazines with 83 per cent of men and 84 per cent or women thinking the brand is for ‘people like them'.
This shows a great opportunity for brands to utilise customer magazines to access joint decision making and also improve engagement with men in the retail environment.
In our current fragmenting media world, as retail brands continue to look at ways to improve loyalty and drive brand equity, customer magazines are ahead of the game.
As a result of their unparalleled ability to engage with customers on a more personal level, magazines are able to bring brands off the high street and into people’s lives.
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