Woman and child each on devices wearing headsets

Bringing Accessible Internet to All

Closing the Digital Divide

To address the need for accessibility, the White House funded ACP, The Affordable Connectivity Program (previously titled EBB-Emergency Broadband Benefit Program). The program offers discounts of up to $30/month on internet service delivered by a participating Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most major providers have opted-in, covering 80% of the U.S. population, according to a White House briefing. Many of the major ISPs have also created service plans that the ACP discount fully covers.

The White House estimates that 48 million or 40% of U.S. households may be eligible for ACP benefits, yet only approximately 12.5 million have signed up to participate as of late June 2022 reports the ACP Enrollment and Claims tracker. With inflation at a startling 8.3% , more consumers are expected to take advantage of the program to mitigate the rising cost of living, gas prices and grocery bills.

Awareness of broadband subsidies and benefits seem to vary widely, as noted in an AT&T survey reported by Fierce Telecom in January 2022 when the program was still known as the EBB. The October 2021 survey reported that only 12% of consumers were aware of the EBB program and applied, while 13% reported being aware but did not apply. Awareness also varied by state. For instance, 61% of consumers in Kansas knew about the program, compared to only 45% in Kentucky.

The goal is to make more households aware of this valuable program, but also to motivate them to sign up.

Engaging Eligible Households

  1. Use the Right Media: The best way to engage these consumers is to identify and reach them with a targeted message in the geographies where internet services are available. Many telecoms rely on TV as the best way to deliver an effective message, but according to Prosper Insights & Analytics™, 59% of telecom purchase influence comes from print and digital.
  2. Make it Personal: Consumers have consistently indicated they are more apt to engage with a brand that personalizes its message. Utilizing the same offers and messaging as non-ACP campaigns is likely not going to get the attention if a consumer does not think they can afford the service. Households that have yet to sign up require more information on the program and its benefits.
  3. Deliver a Holistic Message: Vericast Awareness-to-Action studies (fielded by Prosper Insights & Analytics in 2020 and 2021) confirm that 34% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides a consistent experience across interactions. A holistic, strategic approach to planning with a unified platform is needed to successfully engage ACP eligible consumers. A platform such as Vericast’s Illumis™ uses billions of non-cookie-reliant data points anchored to the household to deliver a seamless experience and message with both print and digital media.
  4. Incorporate the Power of Print: Direct mail that can deliver messages at the household level has staying power and provides an informative experience that will live in the house longer than digital ads. In fact, 72% of consumers read or look at ads that come in the mail and on average, hold on to the piece for 14 days (Vericast Awareness-to-Action Study).

Using a singular approach to deliver the right message allows companies to engage with ACP-eligible households and inform them of their internet options, while we work to bring affordable, reliable internet to all.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect with more of your audience. Contact us today and learn how to reach these ACP-eligible consumers.

For nearly two decades, Jill Morgan has helped brands strategically connect with their consumers. She has spent the last 13 years at Vericast, currently working in client strategy, primarily supporting TMT (Telecom, Media and Technology) and Retail Channel clients. Jill is responsible for creating data-driven thought leadership to develop multi-channel solutions to reach the right consumers at the right time.

Woman adjusting art frame on wall

2022 Retail TrendWatch Series: Splurging, Saving and Saying I’ll Do It Myself

In our recent report — 2022 Retail TrendWatch — we uncovered insight from 1,840 consumers and 268 home retailers and service providers. Consumers provided their thoughts on spending priorities and buying outlooks for 2022, while retailers shared their two cents on the biggest marketing and operational challenges.

People are spending, but retailers need to give them a reason to splurge — now more than ever.

  • 77% of advertisers say businesses need to give consumers stronger reasons to purchase
  • 81% of advertisers say consumers are looking for deals and discounts more than in the past

Do it yourself + treat yourself

In home retail, DIY is on the upswing, and money saved on big projects is slated to be spent elsewhere.

“I’ll just do it myself” — said by both frugal and frustrated consumers

More people (26%) are doing more home repair, maintenance or improvement projects themselves versus hiring contractors or service providers.

When asked why they plan to DIY:

  • 57% of people said it was more expensive to hire outside contractor or service providers
  • 51% said it was easy to complete projects by watching how-to videos or reading online articles
  • 19% of people said it was both taking too long to find contractors or service providers and when they do find a contractor or service provider, it takes too long for them to complete the job

“My home is my happy place”

Forty-six percent of people planning to purchase products or services for their home primarily want to enhance the enjoyment, comfort and beauty of their home, with repair or maintenance a secondary priority. The baby boomer generation is more focused on repairs and maintenance (53%).

Top 3 Projects

Affluents are investing in outdoor design and remodeling – landscape, deck or patio renovations ranked at 22 percent, whereas parents of all ages are focusing on paint at 20 percent.

Visual depicting top 3 purchases to update your space

It’s no surprise that Gen Z is spending their dollars on electronics (24%) while Millennials spend on furniture (24%), mostly likely for family living.

“Save then spend or spend then save?”

Money saved could go toward bigger purchases down the road, with 29 percent of people delaying purchases to save money in the next three months

People still just wanna have fun, with nearly a third (27%) concerned about having money to spend on fun purchases, dining out and treats

What’s the blueprint?                                          

While you can expect spending to scale back as our inflationary times continue, know that people are receptive to your brand, deals and products if they fit their lifestyle and budget.

People are looking for deals on the luxuries as they treat themselves. Stretching a dollar will mean more with every trip to the store.

Learn more about Value + Values in our next blog. You can also download the full report for more perspective, stats action items, and recommendations.

Dave Cesaro is executive director of client Strategy at Valassis, where he leads a team dedicated to providing insights and promotional advice to partners in the Retail, Grocery, and E-Commerce categories. Dave has more than twenty years of experience in advertising and direct marketing focusing on strategies that combine the world of online and offline media to engage consumers and drive them to act.

Make the Most of Direct Mail Marketing — Now and in the Future

Increased interest in direct mail presents a key opportunity to diversify your marketing efforts. With more than 81% of people in the United States always or sometimes working from home (February 2022 data from Gallup research), an increasing number of businesses are revisiting direct mail marketing — and for good reason. Mailboxes are rarely as cluttered as email inboxes, making it much easier to grab the attention of customers. But the real catalyst has been increased consumer interest.

As people continue working at home, the February 2022 Vericast Awareness-to-Action Study found that 71% of consumers and 68% of millennials regularly read direct mail ads. That’s a lot of eyes on your brand. The timing couldn’t be better to implement a direct mail marketing strategy to complement your existing efforts to drive awareness and sales. Implement the following ideas to build successful direct mail campaigns.

Access, analyze, and act on great data

When you know and understand your customers, it becomes that much easier to tailor a direct mail marketing campaign around their specific needs.

For example, the Vericast Consumer Intel Report revealed that 66% of all consumers use coupons they get in the mail, but the percentage is higher amongst millennials. Around 72% of millennials and 81% of millennial parents use coupons. Some of this traction around coupons might be because inflation hit a four-decade-high, driving up costs across the board – cost increases that could be offset with coupons – but there is also a growing trend for consumers to be more thoughtful about their spending.

Data can give you a glimpse into consumer preferences and the buyer’s journey, allowing for more relevant direct mail campaigns. You can offer the right promotion at the right time to the right person or the right neighborhood and can also have options to tailor your approach to specific households and their preferences. Each household or neighborhood will respond differently, so use a data-driven approach to build direct mail marketing practices that focus on relevant messaging and targeted media spending to drive results.

Make efficiency a central focus

One significant component of any direct mail marketing campaign is, naturally, the mail. That means printing, preparing, and delivering a promotion calls for partners that understand the importance of postage and distribution. Without a knowledgeable partner, the time and money involved in a marketing campaign can quickly balloon — and you could risk missing your target audience or window of opportunity altogether.

When evaluating a marketing partner, consider every facet of a direct mail marketing program, including:

  • Pricing
  • Format and availability of high-impact additions
  • Postage and timing
  • Print and paper quality
  • Address list quality
  • Incremental lists costs
  • Measurement

Capabilities are essential, especially when you want to vary your direct mail marketing tactics — perhaps when moving from a postcard to a solo mailer to a full-size 3D piece. But, this isn’t for the variety alone. Certain types of content are better suited for each stage of the buyer’s journey. For example, a cooperative piece of mail helps improve awareness in neighborhoods through saturation, while a solo delivery excels at personalized messaging.

There are partners, like Vericast, that provide turnkey direct mail solutions. In fact, our company has the only residential list with nearly 100% of U.S. addresses updated and mailed weekly. This provides more accurate mailings for clients.

Add omnichannel as a compliment

While a direct mail marketing campaign can stand on its own, it is often most effective when it’s one component of a broader omnichannel approach. A direct mailer can amplify digital or mobile marketing — or vice versa.

According to Vericast’s Awareness-to-Action Study, 47% of consumers like to receive offers in print and online so they don’t miss out on savings — and 62% of millennial parents agree. It’s all about encircling your desired customers with the ideal messaging at the right cadence and in various ways along multiple touchpoints to prompt conversions.

Choosing the right direct mail marketing partner

With the right direct mail marketing partner, you can take advantage of the medium in no time — and at a cost-effective rate with significant ROI.

Direct mail provides a tactile experience that appeals to consumers. As the effects of the pandemic ease and more people are finding a new normal in their buying habits, get your brand in front of consumers with printed promotions delivered directly to their homes. Just make sure your direct mail marketing strategy relies on good data, a strong partner, and a personalized call to action that sparks interest and delivers optimal sales.

Like almost any other marketing tactic, direct mail requires some effort and strategy on the front end to ensure the best results on the back end. Ideally, you would partner with a company that leverages strong data, rich consumer intelligence, and superior end-to-end execution.

If you’d like to learn more about the value of direct mail marketing for increased consumer engagement, download the “This Direct Mail Moment” ebook. 

As part of the Vericast marketing team, Megan O’Gorden specializes in the CPG promotions landscape. She has 20+ years of experience in product storytelling and go-to-market execution, helping clients discover and utilize solutions that drive consumer engagement and positive business results.

Woman sitting at home looking at her phone

How Do Your Personal Spending Habits Match Consumers’ in 2022?

We surveyed nearly 2,000 people on how the priorities and preferences driving their spending behaviors are evolving. We also surveyed 268 home retailer and service providers about their biggest advertising challenges and priorities for 2022. (If you missed it, read the full report here for some fascinating insights into a range of topics, including why social media advertising shouldn’t always be your top priority.)

In this blog, we’re going to use this research to show you how your buying habits stack up to your customers — to help you understand the people you’re selling to in new ways.

We’ll be focusing on three key areas:

  1. The most popular financial concerns
  2. Common money-saving moves
  3. Shopping in-store vs. spending online

 Let’s dive in.

How optimistic do you feel about the next six months?

How typical are your spending priorities? For an industry tasked with understanding the people we sell to, it can be a difficult question to answer as a marketer.

How optimistic do you feel about the next six months?

Most consumers in our 2022 Retail TrendWatch report feel optimistic about the next six months — particularly millennials, millennial parents and affluent shoppers. Click the other options for what others said.

That’s understandable! Twenty-nine percent of respondents to our survey note a mixture of optimism and pessimism about the next six months. Click the other options to see what others said.

Interesting — only about a fifth of consumers we surveyed feel the same. Baby boomers are the generational demographic that feel the most pessimistic. Click the other options to find out what others said.

What are your financial concerns this year?

We’ve weathered an enormous amount of economic uncertainty over the last two years — but that anxiety doesn’t manifest in uniform ways.

Financial concerns in 2022 span a wide variety of topics across different demographics and backgrounds. According to advertisers, the biggest challenge home retail consumers face is rising prices (56%), followed by lengthy delays to receive products (46%).

The more marketers and brands understand the differing economic anxieties across audience segments, the better they can tailor their messaging and marketing activities to stay top of mind across the whole buying journey.

What about you? What are your financial concerns this year? And how do your priorities compare to different consumer groups? (And remember — click multiple options to get the full picture).

What are your financial concerns this year?

What are you doing to save money this year?

Financial anxieties are only one half of the equation. The thing really driving changes in behavior is what people do about it.

People are divided in the best ways to make their dollars stretch further. Forty-eight percent will notice and collect relevant advertising when they’re in-market to make a purchase for their home, while others will reallocate their spend across different categories.

What are you going to do to save money this year? Do they match your others plans? How could your marketing efforts adapt to the new buying habits of your audience? (Don’t forget to click multiple options to get the full picture).

What are you doing to save money this year?

Where do you plan to spend your money?

After a period of radically reduced choice, people are rethinking how they allocate their budget between offline and online destinations.

There are a multitude of disruptive forces still at play, influencing people at check out: continued economic uncertainty, the rising cost of living, and ongoing supply chain limitations for brands.

Due to product shortages in particular, 47% are switching stores or buying products different from what they planned.

The key for advertisers to connect with people is to stay top of mind in purchasing moments — wherever they happen. What are your online and in-store spending intentions? How do they compare to your core audience? (Make sure to click around to get the full picture.).

How will you spend in-store compared to previous months?

Younger shoppers will see you there. There’s a clear appetite for brick and mortar for 45% of Gen Z, 42% of millennials and 46% of millennial parents and 45% of parents overall.

Just like over half of baby boomers (55%), you’ll continue shopping in-store as much as you always have done.

You’re part of a rare group — just 18% of people are planning to spend less in-store in the coming months. Everyone else will either continue or increase their current spending in stores.

How will you spend with online retailers compared to previous months?

 

There’s a diverse mix at play — along with flashing the cash in-store, Gen Z and parents are the most likely to increase their online spending, at 43% and 39%, respectively.

You’re among the 46% of people planning to keep digital spending steady — along with sticking to their online habits, baby boomers lead the pack here at 55%.

Almost a quarter of people are planning to spend less online — significantly more than shoppers cutting in-store spending.

Elevate your strategy with empathy

It’s all too easy for marketers to think academically about shopping behaviors. But it’s important to take a step back and put yourself in other’s shoes. If you can understand how your own plans going forward align or differ, you can understand your audience better.

This ability to empathize will come in handy as the retail landscape continues to shift around us. Fifty percent of people agree they’re more likely to purchase from a retailer that reaches out to them at the right time when they have a need for a product or service.

If you can see how people are spending — and where they’re holding back — you can better plan your strategies around their behaviors.

This is a necessity at a time when loyalty is taking a backseat to changing lifestyles. If you give people a compelling reason to stay top of mind in the right moment, you can turn industry change into real competitive advantage.

If you want to know more about how consumers are buying differently this year — and how to make your marketing stand out to the right people — we’ve got you covered.

First, to see how you can help buyers navigate challenges like price increases and tighter budgets, read “Marketing Advice for Inflationary Times.

Alternatively, to dig deeper into an audience segment poised to spend this year, read “3 Ways to Connect With Millennial Parents in 2022.”

Matthew Tilley is executive director of marketing for Vericast and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective. 

Woman browsing for dishes in the store

As the Future of Retail Shifts, Shoppers Have High Expectations

In our recent report — 2022 Retail TrendWatch — we uncovered insight from 1,840 consumers and 268 home retailer professionals. Consumers provided their thoughts on spending priorities and buying outlook for 2022, while retailers shared their two cents on the biggest marketing and operational challenges.

People prioritize a good value when making purchases, but they also want retailers with strong values. They’re focused on DIY, but also open to splurges. They’re looking for products online and in-store, and for print and digital deals.

Such a dichotomy — what are you to make of it?

You can read the full report for yourself, but here’s a sneak peek at what we learned:

Expectation #1: Do it yourself + treat yourself

  • Key Stat: 26% of people are doing more home repair, maintenance or improvement projects themselves versus hiring contractors or service providers.
  • Key Takeaway: Position yourself as a trusted advice-giver and people will look to you when they want to do it themselves. If they change their mind, and decide they want to pay a professional, you’ll already be top of mind when it comes to their vision, trust and relatability.

Expectation #2: Value + values

  • Key Stat: 55% of people are willing to try a new retailer or provider when purchasing a product or service for their home.
  • Key Takeaway: People want to make their money stretch further. Inflation, rising prices and supply chain delays influence buying decisions. Your brand can compel people to try new products or switch retailers altogether.

Expectation #3: Relevance + immediacy

  • Key Stat: 50% of people are more likely to purchase from a retailer that reaches out at the right time when there is a need for a product or service.
  • Key Takeaway: It’s important not to take loyalty for granted. Give people a clear, compelling reason to keep coming back. Ensure you stay top of mind and inbox across the buying journey — online and offline.

Expectation #4: Mobile + mailbox

  • Key Stat: When it comes to coupons, discounts or deals, 28% of people are influenced by print and 24% say direct mail is their preferred delivery method for deals.
  • Key Takeaway: While it may be a surprise that paper is a strong contender to digital deals, retailers should note it ultimately depends on lifestyles and preferences. The best approach is to use both digital and traditional marketing, from mobile to mailbox.

We’ve shared with you the trends and a takeaway for each — download the full report for more perspective, stats, action items and recommendations.

Matthew Tilley is executive director of marketing for Vericast and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective. 

Woman at home looking at restaurant direct mail ad

How Restaurants Can Use Direct Mail to Boost Visits

Restaurants continue to reel from supply chain issues, talent shortages and rising operating costs. In response, many have raised menu prices to help short-term sales, but those increased prices have negatively impacted consumer demand, as restaurant traffic continues to struggle.

Consumers, now facing a financial crunch unseen in decades, are changing their purchasing behaviors — they are eating out less, ordering fewer items or cooking at home more often (despite increased grocery prices as well).

However, people are willing to spend if the right deal comes along. An irresistible incentive could strongly influence them to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to dine out, pick up takeout or order food for delivery.

From a marketing perspective, many times, there is an initial reaction to cut advertising to help save money. But, instead of cutting back on advertising, restaurant marketers should be seizing this opportunity to stay top of mind and drive response with guests.

The effectiveness of direct mail

When it comes to the right media tactics, digital marketing should be part of your strategy, and so should direct mail. Here’s why:

Direct mail is targeted and engaging

Direct mail has proven to be an effective media tactic for brand awareness and customer acquisition by offering direct incentives to consumers’ mailboxes. Some marketers may have misgivings about direct mail because of some common misconceptions. Perhaps they see it as old-school and appealing only to older consumers.

On the contrary, modern direct mail uses the latest technologies to localize targeting and tailor messaging, much like digital marketing does. And younger consumers like millennials do engage with direct mail. Vericast’s March 2022 Awareness-to-Action Study found that 72% of millennials regularly read or look at ads they receive in the mail.

Direct mail influences purchasing decisions

Restaurant brands should include direct mail ads in their multichannel media mix because consumers still rely on print when making buying decisions. Consider these studies:

  • 53% of consumers say direct mail influences them to visit a restaurant or order delivery/carryout (Vericast Awareness-to-Action Study, March 2022)
  • 40% of consumers feel more positively toward a brand or store offering coupons or discounts (Vericast Deals & Coupons Report)
  • 39% are more likely to make a repeat purchase if offered a deal (Vericast Deals & Coupon Report)
  • Average response rates for quick service restaurant direct mail ads are around 8%–12% (Vericast Campaign Analytics Data)
  • 31% of consumers are more excited to receive their mail each day and 34% spend more time reading direct mail
Direct mail complements digital marketing

Traditional marketing, which includes direct mail, complements digital marketing in the buyer’s journey. There may be a disparity in performance, but it should not be an either-or choice. Each channel has strengths and weaknesses, so they work best when they work together.

  • 74% of millennials and 72% of Gen Z will take to the internet for some form of online activity, such as viewing a menu, downloading an app or placing an order after seeing a print ad from a restaurant (Vericast Awareness-to-Action Study, September 2021)
  • 46% of consumers who read a direct mail ad are encouraged to go online for more information
  • A USPS study showed a 40% conversion rate when direct mail and digital marketing are combined

The proof is in the results

The Vericast Restaurant Data & Analytics Group conducted multiple campaign analyses throughout the pandemic to understand the effectiveness of direct mail. The Save Direct Mail package delivered a value message with incentives such as coupons and promos. The participating brands were able to customize their offers and deliver ads at a neighborhood level. We used foot traffic analyses — mobile location tracking of exposed print consumers to QSR store visits — in a test versus control environment to measure impact.

The study shows significant ROI during difficult economic times for restaurants that leverage the shared mail package to promote their business. Participating restaurant clients saw a 36% lift in total visits for the test locations compared to control sites. Sixty-three percent of visits were from new and lapsed guests (those who have not visited in the past 60 days).

Based on the results, we projected an average campaign ROI of $5.62. This is significant as it is hard to ignore the powerful impact incentives have on traffic and profitable sales during these tough financial times.

Direct mail as part of an omnichannel strategy

As digital platforms such as Connected TV and social media continue to grow in popularity and consumption, marketers have naturally shifted focus — and advertising dollars — to those channels. But we simply cannot ignore the effectiveness of traditional media in the process. Direct mail continues to be a foundation of the media influence landscape and an effective complement to digital ad strategies.

Data-driven direct mail is the next-generation evolution of this century-old marketing tool. Our Save Direct Mail package uses predictive intelligence to discover and reach consumers and their neighborhoods with the powerful intelligence of our Consumer Graph™. You get access to over 112 million households across the entire country, allowing you to reach your target market at scale.

Download our Restaurant Report to learn more about how your restaurant can use deals and direct mail to drive more visits to your stores and increase your sales.

Matt Lukosavich has nearly two decades of experience helping to connect brands with consumers. In his current role as restaurant strategy director, Matt is responsible for developing data-driven, client-focused, multi-channel solutions with strategic go-to-market media planning for the restaurant industry vertical. Today, he supports the consumer marketing and planning needs for Vericast accounts totaling more than $200 million.

Woman and child sitting together with TV remote in hand

Connected TV Enables Effective Audience-First Advertising

With the rise in streaming content consumption, Connected TV (CTV) should be considered as a component of marketers’ advertising strategies. One of its advantages is allowing for targeting beyond the content-first approach of linear TV to reflect what will resonate most with your target audience.

Check out this video for an overview of what’s possible when including CTV as an additional tactic within your omnichannel campaigns.

 

Get more information about how CTV can help you provide more relevant ad experiences for consumers by visiting https://valassis.com/marketing-solutions/online-advertising/connected-tv/.

Matthew Tilley is executive director of marketing for Vericast and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective. 

Male patient receiving advice from female doctor

What’s the Remedy for Prescription Hesitancy?

How Pharmaceutical Companies and Healthcare Providers Can Reengage with Patients Who Need Them  

Nothing seems predictable these days. The same can be said for action taken in the prescription drug category.  

Before COVID-19, anyone with a health issue might make an appointment with their doctor or specialist, have a consultation about the condition and subsequently may get a prescription pharmaceutical to treat that condition. COVID, however, has upended some of that normal process to reach the end of the path to prescription, creating a challenging environment not only for patients and doctors, but marketers as well.

Consumers are retaining some of their old habits but are also adopting new ones like telemedicine and prescription apps. For example, GoodRx reported that monthly active consumers increased 26% in Q4 2020 versus the same period the prior year. Today, there is more choice for how and where consumers engage with their providers and how much they will pay.

But add the abundance of choice to current economic trends, and you end up with a good deal of health hesitancy, prompted by new uncertainties in 2022. Inflation has caused some stalling of prescription purchase, as retail prices for some well-known drugs have increased at twice the rate of inflation according to the June 2021 AARP “Rx Price Watch” report.  

GoodRx says over 800 drugs increased in price in January 2022 by an average of 5.1%. And as drug prices rise, wages have remained steady. An estimated 31 million Americans still do not have health insurance, have a high-deductible health plan, or, like older consumers, are frustrated with the complexities of the Medicare Part D program and therefore give up on some prescription use.  

So, what exactly is the best path to prescription? It starts with educating consumers about their health conditions and encouraging a more in-depth provider visit. Education and information are more likely to resonate with patients when they are in a healthcare mindset, which is not necessarily when they are face to face with a provider. For instance, Vericast in-market signals indicate that over four million consumers are online each week, searching for general information regarding medications. Anticipating the best opportunities to deliver a message that will influence people presents a new but worthy challenge, both online and offline.  

Most marketers are still relying heavily on traditional TV to do the lion’s share of the work. In 2021 according to Kantar Ad Insights, marketers in the prescription medications category dedicated 82% of budgets to TV advertising. On the other hand, digital, which overall saw significant acceleration during COVID, was only 6% of media spend, yet Prosper Insights & Analytics reported in January 2022 that digital influences 41% of consumer prescription purchase, compared to 15% for traditional TV.

Print also influences 22% of prescription users’ purchase. For marketers who want to win in this space, allocating more toward digital campaigns with a print complement will be more impactful than a strictly high-awareness strategy. 

A balanced strategy includes top- and bottom-funnel media channels. Advertisers can blanket key markets with general awareness via TV or digital about a particular medication and subsequently reach consumers further down the path-to-prescription funnel with more digital or print, as they are ready to make their decision.  

There are better alternatives to traditional, linear TV.  For instance, Connected TV (CTV) can grab the local share of mind in an environment where consumers are more apt to absorb an ad: 72% don’t mind watching ads on streaming platforms, and streaming adoption continues to increase. The latest Vericast Consumer Intel Report notes that 61% of total consumers are watching more streaming videos and TV shows.

Contextual targeting — adding digital placements on pages as consumers are already searching for information — is another effective strategy. Both digital and CTV can be used strategically to generate awareness and to engage the right audience segments. Companies such as Vericast can identify these targets and reach them while complying with applicable privacy regulations. 

Motivating consumers to take care of their health may not be easy, but it is critical. To do this, however, there must be a paradigm shift in go-to-market media strategies to effectively reach and influence them. Reaching this audience now could be the right strategic dose to help close that visit gap and give consumers a better remedy than they are currently choosing.  

Susan Maurer is client strategy director for Vericast, partnering with clients to drive revenue. She has over 20 years of experience working in verticals such as CPG, telecom, healthcare and finance, with a focus on using insights and strategy to help clients realize their consumer engagement objectives.

Family dining outdoors

Inside the Restaurant Consumer’s Mindset

Restaurant prices are rising due to record-high inflation. As a result, consumers are visiting restaurants less frequently, ordering fewer items or looking for cheaper alternatives, like cooking at home.

It is a difficult time for the restaurant industry. Almost two years of changing restrictions and a labor shortage have rattled operators. Rampant inflation could continue to depress demand. It has never been more critical for restaurant marketers to get their strategy right.

Despite the ongoing challenges faced by restaurants, the good news is people have not lost their appetite for eating out. And there is one thing that could tip their decision in your favor: deals.

People want restaurant deals

Our latest Restaurant Report has revealed a critical insight: Deals are often the defining factor of whether people choose to eat out (and where) or prepare a meal at home.

Sixty-one percent of people agree that rising prices make restaurant dining too expensive. And the effects of inflation are felt across the board, whether in the grocery or at the gas pump, prompting consumers to save money and be more cost-conscious.

And yet, consumers, especially the younger generations, are optimistic and want to enjoy their lives. There is a constant tug between wanting to be practical and having a little fun.

When it comes to where and what to eat, more than a quarter of people want the least expensive meal options when planning for the week. A good deal can help them with their dining decisions. As our restaurant survey shows:

  • 51% note that deals are essential to save money on restaurant visits
  • 54% say that coupons and discounts encourage them to try a new restaurant
  • 61% share that a coupon, discount or promotion is influential in their decision about which restaurant to order from
  • 54% will spend more at a restaurant when they have a coupon
  • 45% feel more positively toward a restaurant that offers coupons and discounts

Deals influence their choice to eat or take out and decide which restaurant to order from, including trying out something new. Coupons and discounts can boost the frequency of visits and repeat visits. And they can also help increase the average order size, addressing the tendency of guests to order fewer items to offset higher prices.

People love to eat at restaurants

Restaurant dining is a discretionary expense for consumers, and it is one of the first things they will cut back on when they need to save money. However, our report uncovers two strategic insights that restaurant marketers should leverage:

Younger consumers prefer to eat out

Older generations like Gen X and baby boomers are more practical with their spending. Not so with millennials and Gen Z. They are more likely to look to restaurants for their dinner decisions. For instance, only a third of baby boomers eat at a restaurant in a week compared to 41% of millennial and millennial parents. And 11% of Gen Z do not even cook at home, a greater proportion than other generations.

While many will dine out or pick up takeout, 36% of millennial parents and 32% of Gen Z will not do so without a discount. Deals drive the decision to eat out and which restaurant to go to. More than other consumers, these younger generations are in the market for a dining discount. Seventy-two percent of millennial parents and 61% of Gen Z are influenced by a coupon, discount or promotion when choosing which restaurant to order from.

Eating out is often spur of the moment

People usually plan their meals for the week. However, eating or taking out is often unplanned. More than half agree that eating at a restaurant is typically a spontaneous decision.

They are busy, or perhaps just not in the mood to cook, and decide on the fly that they need a break from cooking at home. Our restaurant survey found 48% of consumers decide on the same day to eat out. Sixty-nine percent choose to order a pizza the day of, while 61% order takeout from restaurants other than pizza.

This also applies to the affluent — 76% percent of affluent consumers impulsively decide to order pizza. Fifty-one percent choose to go to a restaurant on any given day.

Stay on their mind

Providing coupons, discounts and promotions will not help your restaurant if customers do not know about them. You must meet your customers where they are. The best approach is to take an omnichannel strategy.

Promote your deals online

Diners are looking online and via mobile for deals and reward programs to help them make snap decisions when it comes to eating out. Consider the findings from our survey:

  • 46% use the internet to search for restaurant coupons or discounts (56% of millennials, 58% of millennial parents and 51% of Gen Z)
  • 49% use mobile to save on restaurant dining (68% for millennial parents versus only 33% of baby boomers)
  • 26% of millennials and 28% of Gen Z are influenced by social media recommendations

Now is not the time to cut back on your marketing spend. Use your digital platforms, loyalty programs, and mobile ordering to get in front of your customers, keep them engaged and drive their dining decisions in your favor.

Include offline in your campaigns

With so many advertising messages vying for their attention online, you must include offline channels to stand out. It may seem old school but people, including younger generations, look to print ads for deals.

  • 42% of consumers use print ads to help them plan restaurant visits
  • 65% of millennial parents and 51% of Gen Z will look through print ads for restaurants
  • 23% of Gen Z will go online after seeing a print ad to order at a restaurant (versus just 9% of baby boomers)
  • 21% of consumers will go online for a coupon or discount after seeing a print ad
  • 72% of Gen Z and 74% of millennials will, after seeing a print ad, go online to review a menu or download an app

Taking an omnichannel approach to promoting your deals requires making the offline-online experience consistent and seamless.

Meet customers where they are

Learn more about what restaurant customers want and how you can best meet their needs. Download our Restaurant Report.

Matthew Tilley is executive director of marketing for Vericast and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective. 

Man looking at direct mail ad in front of mailbox

5 Ways Brands Can Thrive Despite the Increasing Cost of Marketing

It’s about to be more expensive to connect with your target audience through the mailbox. 

It’s not surprising, really. Inflation is at a 40-year high, pushing up the cost of paper, postage and the transportation required to deliver your message. Unfortunately, we’re not just dealing with an increase in the cost of marketing. Everything costs more. And we have sustained supply chain disruptions and continued labor shortages.  

For many, these are uncharted waters — or, at least, waters we’ve not had to navigate for a very long time. So, how can you navigate them? And, specifically, what should you do to adapt to a world where it just costs more to do business?  

Here are five recommendations: 

First, stay the course  

Now is not the time to back away from connecting with your target audience. People are under a lot of stress and really need help right now. Advertisers can be part of the solution, with guidance, deals and opportunities to deliver on basic needs and self-care. As a result, brands that prioritize engaging with consumers will stay top of mind and be rewarded with long-term loyalty.  

Second, measure your return  

You’re likely already doing this … sort of. But now that every dollar counts even more than ever, an objective assessment of the return on ad spend you are (or are not) getting for each campaign and tactic is critical.  

Your audience constantly changes behaviors and develops new media consumption patterns. So, smart money says to test and learn what’s working to profitably drive sales. That will include evaluating new channels like social media platforms and Connected TV and homing in on the most effective media mix with tried-and-true tactics like shared direct mail packages and display advertising.  

However, this isn’t about making a choice between using direct mail or using digital marketing. Instead, as Christine Moorman said in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “When used together, traditional and digital marketing can reach more audiences, build and keep trust, and motivate buying from consumers who otherwise might tune out marketing messages.”  

Third, refine your offers  

Historically, consumers are more likely to seek out value during difficult economic times. And that’s proving to be true in our current environment as people prioritize relevant offers.  

Of course, that means they want coupons and deals to help them stretch their spending as far as possible. Without that help, they may have no choice but to stay at home and not spend at all.  

But tough economic realities also mean people value brands that deliver sincere, empathetic and relatable messages. Just as you are trying to make the most out of the present circumstances, consumers want guidance on how to survive and thrive in these inflationary times. 

Fourth, be creative and flexible  

As important as it is to maintain your share of voice and stay top of mind with your audience, the current realities may require some adjustments. You hardly need to be reminded that supply chains are in disarray, and it costs more just to advertise. Overcoming those difficulties will require creativity and flexibility.  

That may mean redirecting budget toward media that is readily available or cost-efficient. Or it may mean looking for a more reliable partner. Now might be the right time to consider new formats, new tactics and new offers (testing, learning and refining all along the way, of course!) to account for the logistical and financial headwinds.  

The bottom line is what worked in the past may not be best in this environment. For example, due to cost and availability, printing and mailing out a monthly catalog might temporarily be shifted to a direct mail insert that points recipients to an online experience.

While you must maintain focus on the end goal of engaging and converting your target audience, you’ll get rewarded by flexing on how you achieve that goal.  

Fifth, lean in on reliable partnerships 

Even in the best of times, investing in mutually beneficial partnerships is smart. But it becomes vital in difficult times. And the best partners are those with whom you can openly share challenges and work together toward the best solutions.  

To specifically address the rising cost of direct mail as a marketing tactic means investing in partnerships that offer: 

  • The data and insight needed to effectively find and target your ideal audience 
  • Production flexibility for various formats and timelines, as well as access to paper given the current shortages  
  • Print and digital media products that work together to engage your audience  
  • A consistent track record of delivering return on spending over the long term — and especially in recessionary and inflationary times  

Direct mail still works 

Sure, it’s going to cost more, but so is everything else. And dollar for dollar, few marketing tactics rival direct mail’s long-term effectiveness, efficiency and ability to play well inside a robust omnichannel strategy. And since 2020, this powerful tool has experienced a renaissance of renewed interest among consumers.  

To learn more about how you can get the most out of your direct mail campaigns right now, check out our ebook, “This Direct Mail Moment.”  

Curtis Tingle is svp, print media product at Vericast. He is responsible for the growth and innovation of our Save print products and our coupon redemption, security, and analysis services — primarily focused on making them work harder for our clients. Recognized as an industry thought leader in promotional strategy, coupon trends and evolving consumer purchase behaviors, Curtis brings over two decades of partnering with marketers to drive exceptional results through omnichannel campaigns that engage and activate consumers.