Mei-Mei Chan / Todd Stubing/news-press.com
When I go into the grocery store, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.
Many of you know my husband, Randy, retired many years ago to care for me, our daughter and later my parents. So while I’ve been working, he has done all the hard work of paying bills, fixing this and that, cooking and cleaning and errands and shopping.
I’m essentially not allowed to cook, which is fine with all parties. But I get to gleefully tag along to the grocery store now and then.
The dizzying array of items is fascinating! As a marketer, I’m intrigued by brands, packaging and products. I look at who’s advertising what, how they’re positioned, and what catches my eye.
While Randy is methodically cruising aisles with his lists, I browse and dawdle and study. And I plop nifty things into the cart: Sushi, breath mint strips, 100-calorie brownie bites, reduced-fat crunchy peanut butter.
This drives Randy crazy. Aside from disrupting his routine and getting lost in Aisle 4, I’m buying things that are not on sale.
With our modest backgrounds, we’re both quite frugal. But he has developed an expertise around pricing and coupons that governs what he buys where and when. After I scan the coupons and inserts to see what’s new, he’ll go through to clip what he’ll actually use.
Ten cents adds up. Ten dollars off grocery coupons are worth their weight in vegetables. Twenty percent off at a restaurant inspires us to give them a try. (We’ll then leave a bigger tip because we’re happy with the bargain.)
For Randy, it’s less about saving money than about getting a great deal because you planned well. I should note he is a tad susceptible to advertising messages. When we lived in Washington, D.C., we heard a radio ad for a Mexican restaurant: the Crabby Sombrero. It so captivated Randy, we drove miles and miles...like an hour!…only to find a dive at the end of our journey. He still calls it’s a great advertisement, which apparently it was.
As publisher and president of the News-Press Media Group I get to engage in both the news and advertising departments, keeping a finger on the pulse of consumers, businesses and readers.
We in the media business are most proud of the power of news content, the heart of who we are. Over the years, we’ve helped rally the community behind fighting hunger, providing blankets for the homeless, elevating the quality of education, and more.
Earlier this month, reporter Cristela Guerra wrote of 5-year-old Gavin Lawrey of Cape Coral, who suffers a unique incurable disease. In less than 10 days, the family received nearly $40,000 in donations from across the country, with amounts ranging from $5 to $5,000. It hasn’t stopped. People — strangers — stop by the house to provide support.
That ability to touch lives and serve the greater good is the core purpose that drives us.
But we also produce another kind of content that matters: advertising, which is also a form of news. It’s a gauge on what businesses are doing, who is innovating and what’s important to them.
Last Sunday for example, I noticed the following ads that were actually business stories:
• Lee Memorial Health System is getting the word out on the need to pass Sen. Joe Negron’s “Healthy Florida” plan as the days tick down to the end of the legislative session and we risk losing out on billions of dollars for our uninsured.
• Barry University has a school of social work and is inviting applications.
• Regal Cinemas has apparently purchased Coconut Point Stadium 16 (I have a Regal card!).
• HomeGoods has a new store opening in Estero (where I live).
Advertising isn’t for everyone. But it has high value to many, especially in print, where readers embrace advertising as part of the package.
Recently I attended the Newspaper Association of America’s annual sales and marketing meeting in Orlando. They released the annual “How America Shops and Spends” report based on 2,000 respondents nationwide. It showed that print newspapers scored highest for the medium used in the past week to plan shopping, at 62 percent, followed by online and product displays in stores (tied at 57 percent each). This isn’t just older folks. It included 41 percent of those ages 18-24 for example.
More importantly, eight of 10 adults took action based on print newspaper ads in the past 30 days with 53 percent buying something and 52 percent clipping a coupon. Half of adults today are using online circulars. We have digital versions of ads that are growing in popularity, under our “local deals” header.
Just as we love seeing results from our news content like with Gavin’s story, we also exalt in hearing from our customers. Two examples from this month:
• A new hamburger restaurant ran a coupon with us for the first time. They got over 500 redeemed over three weeks. “It was awesome,” said the client.
• A builder ran a full page on our Friday Showcase section and reported, “IT WORKED! Wow did we have traffic…No kidding, 3 and 4 couples here at the same time. It was AWESOME!”
Awesome indeed. Good thing we’re not shopping for a home right now but I’m sure we’ll be headed to the burger place shortly.
Mei-Mei Chan is president and publisher of The News-Press Media Group. Her column runs the last Sunday of each month. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org