Print and online flyers have an equivalent impact on memory and purchase behaviour, meaning the best promotional vehicle can be selected using cost and reach criteria, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Marco Ieva and Cristina Ziliani (University Of Parma), Juan Carlos Gázquez-Abad (University Of Almería/Spain), and Ida D’attoma (University of Bologna) were the authors of this study.

“The results indicate that print and online promotional communication do not differ in their effect on purchase behavior and memory,” they asserted.

Elaborating on that insight, they made a key recommendation: “Decisions on media investment hence should be based solely on cost and reach capability.”

The research study, entitled Online-versus-Offline Promotional Communication: Evaluating the Effect of Medium On Customer Response, drilled down further into this topic.

“Online flyers led to the same memory and purchase behavior as print. Thus, retailers seeking to reduce costs could cease print communication and rely exclusively on online formats,” it asserted.

“By shifting to online communication, however, retailers may reduce the reach previously granted by print.”

For pure e-commerce players, “the broad adoption of omnichannel strategies shows that reach is the priority (rather than cost reduction).

“Similar to developing a physical presence (such as owning a store) to reach additional audiences, these retailers might consider physical communication alongside digital.”

The initial pilot study for the research involved 882 customers and four “experimental conditions”: online-only flyer recipients, print-only flyer recipients, print and online recipients, and no flyer.

“Only 6% of customers browsed both the online and the print flyers, so this condition was removed from the full-scale experiment,” the authors noted.

The full study of 9,902 people was thus split into three even groups of online flyers only (delivered via email with a hyperlink to the information), print flyer only (delivered to homes), and no flyer.

Results were tracked in a supermarket chain boasting 37 stores and that has a biweekly print and online flyer that is available on its website.

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC saff