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By Gail Diggs

During the November DMAW luncheon, Janet Tonner of Vertis Communications (a full-service marketing communications company with offices across North America) shared information and statistics that marketers in any industry could put to great use.

Her presentation, entitled “Between the Lines”, was designed to provide new insights into how consumers use newspaper inserts, direct mail, and the internet to make buying decisions.

Tonner started out by telling us that most consumers fall into one of four of the following categories:

  1. INFLUENCERS. Influencers are open to change and are community oriented.
  2. LOYALISTS. Loyalists are community oriented and resistant to change.
  3. TRAILBLAZERS. Trailblazers are open to change and are individually oriented.
  4. GO-GETTERS. Go-getters are individually oriented and resistant to change.

I found this part of her presentation very eye-opening because it suggests that once I, as a writer, determine which of these categories my market falls within, I’m better able to craft a message that will resonate with them.

For example, if I’m talking to people who I determine are “Influencers” I should be careful to lace my copy with words to suggest that the action I’m asking them to take is for the greater good and not something that will impact them only.  And when writing to “Trailblazers”, I want to write copy that ignites a sense of adventure and fun.

Tonner also shared statistics and insights into how consumers make purchasing decisions based upon their age.  For example:

  • When asked how they search for value,  consumers in generation X (34-45 year olds) and Baby Boomers (46-64) thought that coupons represented the best value deals.  In contrast, younger consumers (16-33 years of age) preferred the “Buy one get one free” offers and thought they represented the greatest value.
  • When asked which media has the most influence over their buying decisions, the younger generations answered that the Internet did, followed closely by television. Consumers who are a bit older relied more heavily on print media, more specifically ad inserts and circulars.
  • When the younger adults (age 18-34) were asked how they prefer to receive marketing offers, their answer was through direct mail!  That was a shocker to me and to many others in the room.  We all thought that this group would certainly prefer some electronic communication, but that was not the case.
  • Baby boomers spend more money online than any other age group.

Some luncheon attendees were involved in fundraising, and they were particularly interested to learn that, according to Vertis’ research, readers of fundraising direct mail are stronger readers of print media and advertising than the average U.S. adult.

As it pertains to direct mail, Tonner shared that brand recognition is the main reason why most people will open a package they receive.  Consumers are also greatly influenced by the timing of the piece (whether or not they needed the product when the mailing piece arrived), whether they could feel something on the inside of the package, and by the offer of a special discount.

In terms of email readership, relevance was named as the main factor determining whether or not an email gets read.

The biggest surprise of the afternoon came when Tonner asked attendees to guess where the “ultra-affluent” had increased their credit card spending compared to last year.  Our choices were organic groceries, fast food, or health clubs.  I guessed health clubs.  I was wrong.  And if you guessed organic grocers, you’re wrong, too.  The answer, believe it or not, was fast food!

Yes, according to their research, “Ultra-affluent” consumers boosted their fast-food spending by 24% in the second quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, while fast-food spending among the rest of  U.S. consumers rose 8%.  Wow!  Who knew?

This DMAW luncheon was another opportunity to re-connect with business colleagues, meet new ones, and learn new information in a comfortable, convenient setting.  I hope to see you at an upcoming DMAW event.

Til then, Happy Holidays!

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Gail Clanton DiggsGail Diggs is president of GCD Writing and Marketing, where she uses a unique blend of offline direct mail knowledge and newer online strategies to help businesses realize lasting success.  Prior to her work with GCD, Gail was an Executive Marketing Director and Copywriter at Healthy Directions (formerly Phillips Publishing.)