Assuming an air of local authority

Despite the growth of the global economy, people live in a localised context. They prefer to stay close to home; and that’s where advertisers should be too – local

Reaching consumers when they are in a receptive frame of mind is increasingly difficult for advertisers. As consumers’ free time decreases and the variety of media channels escalates, brands face a constant battle to connect with consumers at the right moment, in the right context.

The importance of communicating and connecting with consumers at home is highlighted by a report, Consumers’ Choice V, to be published by the Newspaper Society later this month. This national consumer survey, carried out by TNS Media, looks at lifestyle, buying behaviour and the role of media when making buying decisions.

The research shows that despite society’s supposedly global focus, we live at a local level, with 62 per cent of people relocating within a five-mile radius when they move house. This attachment to the local area allows advertisers to develop long-term customer relationships by communicating locally, through media such as local newspapers.

This attachment to familiar areas translates into shopping habits. The research found that 58 per cent of shopping takes place within five miles of the home and just 20 per cent of purchases are made more than ten miles away. This is true across a range of consumer sectors: 57 per cent of adults shop for groceries and DIY products within two miles of home.

People are willing to travel further for household goods, with 52 per cent of respondents travelling within five miles for furniture and carpets and 59 per cent for brown goods. However, consumers are prepared to travel furthest for white goods, going up to seven miles away from home. This is likely to be attributable to consumers travelling to particular shops to get the best deal.

Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of shopping takes place at the weekend. Although clothes shopping is very popular, with 27 per cent of clothes shopping trips taking place at the weekend, it seems that furniture and carpet shopping has become more popular: accounting for 38 per cent of all weekend shopping trips. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of consumers shopping for such items during the week is decreasing.

The Consumers’ Choice V research shows that people are reluctant to leave their local area at the weekend, meaning this is an ideal time for marketers to reach consumers in a personal environment when they have time to consider a purchase and have time to travel to the relevant shop.

The local media, such as the regional press, is the most targeted way of talking to consumers in this way. Data from BMRB/TGI shows that local newspapers reach more than 40 million adults – 85.4 per cent of the population. The research found that 20 per cent of respondents believe that regional newspapers are the most trusted media, with BBC television in second place with 19 per cent. These media can play an important role in the local community and can be harnessed by advertisers wanting to capitalise on the trusted status of local brands.

The research also highlights that almost three-quarters of the adult population believes that regional newspapers are considered to contain helpful advertising, second only to catalogues and brochures. This supports the findings of the Conversion Study, published by Millward Brown in 2003, which claimed that consumers who are actively seeking to make a purchase will seek information in the local press.

A range of advertisers already use the regional press to talk to their target markets. The recruitment advertising market, frequently cited as an area where the internet threatens traditional media, is a stronghold in regional press. Consumers’ Choice V also shows that the regional press is the most used resource among job-seekers, with 74 per cent of respondents using it to find a new job. This makes it four times more popular than the internet and the Job Centre, which were each used by 18 per cent.

The reach of regional newspaper publishers is being further expanded as they invest in new platforms including websites, lifestyle publications and supplements to offer a portfolio of products to local readers. All of these platforms can be used in tandem with the principal print product.

The success of regional publishers in tapping into this market is highlighted by figures from the Advertising Association, which show that the regional press saw the fastest growth in online recruitment advertising spend last year: up by 48.2 per cent to &£24m. Online specialists saw growth of 41.5 per cent, while national newspapers’ share grew by 22.9 per cent.

This growth means the regional press now accounts for 30 per cent of the online recruitment market. The national press, on the other hand, accounts for just five percent. Specialist online recruitment firms handle the rest of the market.

The research shows that consumers like to develop their lives around a familiar area and are happy to work and shop very close to home. Marketers keen to develop personal relationships between their brands and consumers should understand the value of talking to consumers in their personal time and on a local level. The regional press can provide a gateway for brands to achieve this by giving them a voice in the communities where people live.

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