It’s Time to Ditch the Paper: Evolving the Weekly Ad Circular

In our latest Viewpoints guest blog, Shekar Raman, CEO of Birdzi, lays out how retailers can better promote private brands products without traditional paper ad circulars.

How do you keep your store’s weekly ad circular from ending up in the trash? You don’t print one.

This approach may seem harsh to the many grocers that rely on traditional printed promotions, but the cost, both from the rising price of paper and ink and the lack of relationships formed through a mass-produced circular, is holding grocers back. Digitizing the weekly ad circular will open the door for heightened personalization and profitability. 

The future of promotions lies within a digital personalized, customer-first approach. Successful
promotions are about more than the lowest price; grocers must deliver the right customer the right
item, at the right time, and in the right way. 

The benefits of a personalized, digitized weekly ad circular go beyond profits, they include:

An in-store experience that caters to the individual shopper 

With a digital ad circular, grocers have access to more data than ever before, and this data can be used to create a more unique in-store experience. For returning customers, the more they shop, the better their experience will be – a motivating factor for shoppers to establish loyalty with one grocer.

Woman grocery shopping

For example, if grocers review sales data and learn that their customer base is interested in healthy food options, grocers can tailor the in-store experience accordingly. This could include using QR codes to provide bonus nutritional information or healthy recipe recommendations that prompt additional shopping.

QR codes can also be used to highlight store brands and drive attention to these higher-
margin products. Additionally, by switching to a digital format and encouraging shoppers to download apps or visit the website to access coupons, grocers gain more touchpoints to communicate and engage shoppers.

In fact, when County Market switched to Birdzi’s digital weekly ad circular, the grocer experienced a 500% increase in monthly app downloads and a 300% increase in the number of digitally engaged customers.

Building deeper customer relationships

Understanding your customer goes beyond knowing what aisle they browse first. True customer
relationship management is about understanding a customer’s behavior as well as their needs. For
grocers, this means incorporating a customer’s health requirements and preferences into recommendations. 

A customer intelligence platform can gather this critical information and power weekly ad circulars that incorporate personalized recommendations for each shopper. These personalized, digital weekly circulars can result in larger basket sizes and more product and product category experimentation. Birdzi found that personalized email campaigns can increase the average number of categories shopped by 38.2%.

Once a customer has a series of positive experiences stemming from a grocer’s recommendations, the customer will begin to trust the grocer’s suggestions for them. This opens the door for grocers to promote store brands and see heightened customer interest for these in-house products. Birdzi has seen a steady rise in open rates on personalized emails which likely points to the popularity and relevance of these campaigns.

An end to paper and profit waste

The value of offering the right coupon is substantial. According to Valassis Research, 60% of shoppers are likely to try a new product because of a coupon, and 46% would change their planned purchase if sent the right coupon. But the risk of sending an irrelevant coupon to a shopper is also important to note—irrelevant coupons can damage the grocer’s reputation in the eyes of their shoppers.

Additionally, If the customer doesn’t need a deal on a particular item to motivate them to buy it, don’t give them the discount. And beyond the potential profit waste from sending an irrelevant coupon, grocers can save money (and lower their carbon footprint!) by not printing expensive flyers. The cost of paper and ink will continue to rise, making digital ad circulars increasingly more profitable.

The future of customer intelligence and digital ad circulars

Maintaining profitability despite inflation and growing levels of competition is an ever-increasing
challenge. For grocers, personalized, digital ad circulars provide opportunities to better understand the customer, creating the game-changing relationships and in-store experiences needed to succeed today.


Shekar Raman

Shekar Raman is CEO and co-founder of Birdzi, a grocery retail AI solutions company that was inspired by an idea his 11-year-old daughter had about locating products in the supermarket. He is passionate about building data-driven technologies leveraging AI and machine learning to help retailers and brands elevate the customer experience.

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