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Do More Research: Execs from the Nation's Leading Retailers Advise Newspapers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Do More Research: Execs from the Nation's Leading Retailers Advise Newspapers

Article excerpt

Do more research

Execs from the nation's leading retailers advise newspapers

Research managers for three of the nation's largest retailers sent strong signals to newspapers that their advertising revenue is closely tied to providing their companies with more and better customer data.

The speakers at the Newspaper Research Council conference at Santa Barbara, Calif., stressed that research is a key to survival in today's rapidly changing marketplace and newspapers would be smart to realize the fact.

They were, of course, preaching to the converted but they clearly wanted the message to get back to the conferees' editors, publishers and sales managers.

James J. Rys, advertising research manager for Sears Roebuck and Co., said the firm's own research into print advertising suggests that most Sunday newspaper buyers value its advertising supplements as much as its editorial content, that the midweek paper may be a weak place for department store preprints, and that suburban dailies might be better venues for ROP than metro papers.

"It seems to me," he said, "that the newspaper industry should periodically do studies like this one to help themselves and their advertisers .... Newspapers shouldn't be reluctant to provide trend information on themselves. The harm untruths could cause for the industry and for advertisers is a higher risk."

Rys indicated that newspapers have nothing to fear from research. Despite their decline in household penetration, he explained, newspapers are increasingly becoming more recognized by customers as "the best and perhaps the only source of shopping information among the media."

The speaker challenged newspapers to take the lead in providing accurate annual trend information on themselves that could benefit advertisers by giving them a competitive advantage.

Pointing out that retailers and newspapers are dependent upon each other, Rys urged both to advocate and support research that is responsive to the needs of the 1990s.

Retailers, he continued, need strategic research to produce "thinker toys," "incorruptible" trend data, uniform multimedia market studies, and "access to local market information which newspapers can best provide."

More newspaper involvement in research also was stressed by two other members of the panel, "Partners in Profits."

Susan Wrenn, market research manager for Circuit City Stores Inc., a fast-growing chain featuring brand-name electronics and appliances, said that, as the company's sales grow, so will its commitment to increased advertising.

However, expanding sales - $2.38 billion in 1990 for Circuit City - requires research "and, more specifically, a good handle on what our market share is, and how we can improve it," she added.

Market share data, Wrenn continued, can help retailers evaluate their advertising programs, particularly when surveys are performed on a frequent basis.

"Retailers are looking for specific, actionable results from research," she declared, adding that market share information that can be substantiated "is one of the most difficult pieces of information to obtain."

Wrenn said newspaper surveys are one means of capturing market share data and that she receives their results from some newspapers.

The Los Angeles Times, she said, conducts a semiannual Consumer Trend Analysis of purchases made over the past 12 months of some 6,000 households, gleaning information on both brand share and place of purchases. …

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