A recent online study by Deloitte and Touche uncovered that two thirds of store visits during the 2006 holiday season were not influenced by holiday advertising. It turns out that most consumers picked stores because of their pre-existing familiarity with the stores and the stores locations. Additionally, the products purchased were researched on the internet.
This means that all the money spent during holiday season for print , radio, and TV advertising was largely wasted. As I read the Los Angeles Times on Sunday morning, I was again reminded how much money is wasted on print advertising; I think I threw away about ten pounds of unread advertising. And, I did not even look at one of them.
So, why do the retail giants waste all this money? I think mostly it is because they have been well-trained by the giant advertising firms. The retailers are budgeted to spend this money and the spending is institutionalized. They do it because it is the thing to do, or so it seems.
Consumer shopping behavior is less and less impacted by traditional advertising methods. A cataclysmic shift occurred with consumers in the last year or so with use of search marketing on the internet. More and more buyers are “pre-shopping” with search engines making them the most informed shopper ever. After doing exhaustive research on the web they visit stores to kick the tires. After viewing the products in-person, it is then a matter of price and delivery. The retail store is played against the internet retailer: lowest price and availability wins.
Returning to the ineffectiveness of traditional advertising, the fix seems simple. The retailers need to increase their internet marketing budgets for search engine optimization, internet advertising, and viral marketing. To quote the giant retailer Sears, “where America shops” is now on the internet.
Oh yeah, one more thing: cut the budget for traditional advertising. It does not work any more.
John Bradley Jackson
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