Print Ads Decline

As print media suffers under the weight of the current recession, some supermarket operators are taking notice and shifting more of their ad spending to other media. For example, Associated Food Stores of Salt Lake City is reducing its reliance on print ads, according to Dick King, vice president. We've found newspaper print advertising is not as effective as it has traditionally been, because newspaper

As print media suffers under the weight of the current recession, some supermarket operators are taking notice and shifting more of their ad spending to other media.

For example, Associated Food Stores of Salt Lake City is reducing its reliance on print ads, according to Dick King, vice president.

“We've found newspaper print advertising is not as effective as it has traditionally been, because newspaper subscriptions are down and the younger demographic does not read newspapers, so we've moved to more advertising on blogs, on our website and through other new technology.”

He said the company is continuing to cut back on print ads and trying to do more at the store level using fliers.

With more people watching recorded television programming and overall TV viewership down, “we have to find other ways to get our message out,” King added, citing ads at store level and direct mail as examples.

“It's hard for us older retailers to move away from print, but it's been less and less effective for years, and as a result we've gone from eight pages in our circulars to four in some areas,” he said. “In others, we're advertising only at key times of the month, and we've abandoned print completely in other markets. But in areas with older populations, where people still read newspapers, we do more print advertising.”

Mike Proulx, president and chief operating officer, Bashas' Supermarkets, Chandler, Ariz., acknowledged the chain's declining print usage over the last few years.

“We've scaled back on the frequency of run-of-press ads, and we've reduced the dimensions of our inserts, because we're aware that print ads appeal to just 35% of the Arizona market,” he said. “That leaves a lot of people that are looking at other media, so we anticipate cutting back on print and looking more at the Internet and other forms of technology, including our own website.”

He said the chain still uses billboards and signs at transit stops, and it continues to use radio and TV, though he agreed that TV advertising is less effective.

In New York, Gristede's is continuing to use newspapers and ad circulars as advertising vehicles.

“We still believe in print, and it's still our primary medium, but we plan to do more elaborate promotions online,” said John Catsimatidis, chairman and chief executive officer. “Right now we have some coupon offers online, but we're thinking about producing small ad segments that consumers can watch online.”