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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

2016 Advertising and Promotional Practices Survey

By / October 2016

Insights, Research

As we began preparing for this year’s Advertising and Promotional Practices Survey (BEGIN SURVEY), I recalled a webinar presented by former Nielsen SVP, Todd Hale titled The Evolution of the Circular in which he outlined the undeniable importance of the print circular relating to ad spend and retail promotions, but he described a dynamic and disruptive digital transformation taking place in retail. A quote from that presentation by current SVP of Sales, Merchandising, and Marketing at Giant Food Stores, Erik Keptner, stuck with me as many of our partners were navigating these new, uncharted waters.

“There is a delicate balance in the shift from print to digital. All customers will not migrate to the digital world at the same rate. It will be important to test and learn to understand overall acceptance in order to protect sales and profitability.”

Much has changed in five years but Mr. Keptner’s comment was spot on.

A Changing Consumer Landscape

  • Shoppers are becoming more diverse as the US population continues to grow
  • 309m in 2010 to an estimated 334m by 2020
  • By 2020, Hispanic Americans will make up over half of the US population
  • In 2015 Millennials became the largest population segment, surpassing the Baby Boomers

As  shoppers become more diverse, value becomes defined differently by different segments and consumers becoming even more demanding of retailers. This puts added pressure on retailers to deliver the right products, to the right people, at the right price, using the right promotion. Meeting the needs of these highly selective shoppers requires a shift from a product-centered to customer-centric approach.

Shift from Product to Customer Focus

As e-Commerce continues to change and challenge traditional business models, omni-channel customer satisfaction requires seamless delivery of a clear and consistent message across multiple platforms. The path to purchase must be a personalized journey with touch points in digital, social, mobile, and traditional promotional vehicles. To deliver, retailers must:

  • Use customer data to guide the ad planning process
  • Identify consumer preferences and develop relevant, customized offers
  • Create messages in preferred communications platforms
  • Deliver promotions at the right time and in the right context

Optimizing these avenues of communication and finding the right mix of digital, social, and paper outreach that tells a consistent story is the challenge all retailers are tasked with.

Current Situation

According to a study by Nielsen, 59% of promotions on a global scale don’t break even and in the U.S., only 29% of promotions actually make money. With more discriminate shoppers using technology to make buying choices, food retailers must adapt with them. Larry Levin with Information Resources Inc. reports:

  • Roughly 47% of consumers are going online for coupons or visiting websites for promotional sales
  • Almost 36% of shoppers compare prices online or in-store
  • 8% still use traditional promotional vehicles such as: Newspapers, store circulars, and magazines ads to plan grocery spending.

Now more than ever it is vital for retail advertising and marketing executives to identify poorly performing promotions to replace them with more profitable ones. We would like to help!

The 2016 Topco – dunnhumby – Aptaris’ Advertising and Promotional Practices Survey  

Topco, dunnhumby, and Aptaris understand these unique challenges facing our industry, and it is our goal to help provide a “measuring stick” for food retailers to gauge their efforts against others to ensure optimal returns on advertising dollars. In order to accomplish this, we need your help.

For the second consecutive year, we are asking ALL supermarket food retailers to participate in a brief 10 to12-minute survey surrounding advertising and promotional practices. This study aims to identify current and best practices in:

  • The use of the print circular
  • Leveraging direct mail
  • The migration to digital, mobile, and social
  • Loyalty marketing programs

In exchange for your participation you will receive a comprehensive report that will help you benchmark against others competing in the food retail space. In addition, participants will be eligible to attend webinars to discuss the results of the study.


We understand that promotional practices are a highly sensitive information and we take confidentiality extremely seriously. Only the neutral, third party research firm (210 Analytics, LLC) will see individual survey responses and results will only be reported on in the aggregate. A confidentiality agreement with the research company may be arranged upon your request.

As with all research projects, the higher the response rate the more viable the results and trends represented in the report will be, which is why we are asking for your quick response as the survey will be closing shortly.

Just as Mr. Keptner mentioned five years ago, “all customers will not migrate to the digital world at the same rate. It will be important to test and learn to understand overall acceptance in order to protect sales and profitability,” and with your support, it is our goal to provide you with insightful information to do just that.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Tom O’Reilly – President and CEO, Aptaris. Tom has a deep understanding of the retail business from both the store and vendor perspectives. He brings decades of hands-on experience in advertising and promotions including new media innovations. As an entrepreneur, he has transformed each organization he has worked with. Tom is a forward-thinking leader with a history of driving innovation, growth and profitability. As an avid reader, Tom is always enthusiastically sharing cutting-edge ideas with clients and colleagues.


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