School Tool: FSIs Score Better Then Web, TV Too

Kids may not be reading newspapers, but many parents are still using newspapers' ad inserts to gear up for back-to-school purchases. Exactly one-third of adults with children say they are most influenced by freestanding inserts when making their back-to-school purchasing decisions, according to a proprietary study from Baltimore-based marketing firm Vertis Communications.

The Internet ranked second with 20 percent, and general newspaper advertising was third with 16 percent. Television, which used to be the primary source, is lagging.

Dave Sommer, Managing Partner of MEC Retail, a division of Mediaedge: cia, says: "At first it might sound surprising, but over the years, retailers have done a good job conditioning parents to look to the circulars as a trusted source."

Sommer says retailers put themselves on the line with a price point through circulars. Harried parents can easily comparison shop on cost through them.

Vertis Communications' Director of Marketing Research Scott Marden says the company's research also reveals that the older the children are and the more kids a family has, the greater the likelihood that parents will use circulars for consumer guidance.



"When you have three or more kids, the numbers shoot through the roof," Marden says. "By this point in your life, you're a newspaper subscriber and more cautious with your dollars."

Marden also notes that TV advertising had been parents' primary motivator for many years, but was passed by inserts in 2002. This year, it was passed by the Internet, too.

It will be important to keep a close watch on newspaper insert effectiveness as this generation grows up, Sommer says, adding: "As this new generation begins to shop for school supplies, I doubt [insert primacy] will continue to be the case."

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