SURVEY SUGGESTS CO-OP AD STRATEGIES

WINDSOR, Conn. -- Results of a survey of consumer recall of co-op print promotions suggest that brand marketers should aim for customized local messages and guide retailers in how to express price offers in their circulars."If I were a brand manager I would understand that consumers respond significantly differently to pricing cues depending on how they are presented," said Joseph Durrett, president

WINDSOR, Conn. -- Results of a survey of consumer recall of co-op print promotions suggest that brand marketers should aim for customized local messages and guide retailers in how to express price offers in their circulars.

"If I were a brand manager I would understand that consumers respond significantly differently to pricing cues depending on how they are presented," said Joseph Durrett, president and chief operating officer of Advo, a direct mail marketing company based here.

Durrett estimated that packaged goods companies spend on the order of $800 million annually to support co-op advertising at supermarkets, while providing few guidelines as to how those ads are presented.

"If I were looking at my total budget, I'd want to make sure that every one of my coop dollars was being spent as effectively as possible," he said.

For its Annual Review of Grocery Advertising, released last month, Advo surveyed more than 500 shoppers and 125 industry executives.

The survey results showed that consumers do not respond as favorably to language like, "40 cents off" as they do to "Buy Two-Get One Free," he said, adding that he believes this "specific expression of value" is why consumers respond well to in-ad coupons.

"The more specific dimensionalization is the key," Durrett said. "Where there is no regular price it is hard to say cents off what?"

He added, "I think the grocers are so into their own pricing perspective that they don't realize consumers do not have the same understanding."

In Advo's research, local consumer testimonials received the highest rating among ad message types, 79%, a opposed to very low scores for slogans such as "we will not be undersold," which drew just 44% recall. However, testimonial messages were used in just 2% of top grocers circulars, while slogans appeared in 42%.

"This tells me that a smart brand manufacturer can run regional recipes featuring local celebrities," Durrett said.

"Or why not feature in the market area for each store, a picture and a bit about the manager of each chain?"

His formula for success: "Act locally and spell out savings amounts."

The logistics of creating customized circulars, even on a store specific basis, are already proven, he said. Advo already customizes circulars for many retail chains.