Circulating the Deals

There has been plenty written in recent months about the imminent demise of the print newspaper as we know it today.  I am one of those in the minority who still thumbs through the pages of at least one paper almost every day, but I am admittedly in the minority.

If there is one day that a newspaper still has a loyal following, it is definitely Sundays.  The biggest headline story in many households on Sunday morning has traditionally not just been what is on page 1.  Instead, it is the thick section in the middle of the paper that contains all the store circulars and manufacturer coupons.  These circulars are one of the major revenue drivers for a newspaper – even moreso as the classified ad market has evaporated thanks to the rise sites like Craigslist and eBay.

The Associated Press recently announced a partnership with 20 newspapers and 32 retailers to begin offering a new digital product, iCircular, that will allow access to circulars on newspaper web sites and mobile applications.

As newspaper circulations decline, I wondered how top of mind retailer circulars were on Sunday mornings without the huge, bulky newspaper sitting on the front steps to remind subscribers each week.

The results surprised me.  I looked at the daily reach to both the Target and Best Buy sites.  Based on the huge spikes in traffic on Sundays, it appears that consumer awareness of Sunday as the start of a new week of sales still appears to be strong.  Sunday is one of the busiest days for consumers to visit both sites.

The Sunday spikes in traffic are likely jointly caused by the Sunday circular and also those consumers who do not subscribe to the newspaper and are interested in the week’s sales.

Both Best Buy and Target have tools on their sites that make viewing a circular as lifelike as having the physical circular in your hands – minus the sensation of ink rubbing on fingers while looking at the week’s biggest deals.

Shoppers still appear to be longing for some type of circular type format, despite the fact that they may not be buying a paper on Sundays to look at the circulars.

According to Compete.com, three of the top 18 top search terms that result in a visit to Target.com are related to finding coupons or a circular.

If newspapers go extinct, is this a chance to completely re-examine the promotion cycle for national retailers?  Best Buy has stolen a page out of the daily deal site playbook by introducing its own Deal of the Day.

Moving away from weekly deals could help spread traffic to the store throughout the week, but runs the risk of causing site crashes and a run of inventory – ala the Missoni Target launch.

How do you find out about retailer deals?  Would you welcome a new promotion lifecycle?

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