Flyer readership remains strong amid COVID-19 but Canadians express preference for digital flyers

Let’s talk about flyers in the digital age – and now, a pandemic.  

Print flyers have an uncertain future. In fact, just this past month, Canadian retailers Maxi, No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore, all owned by Loblaws Companies Limited, decided to go 100% digital with their flyer content. 

Whether this action comes from an increased presence of engaged shoppers online or the recognition of the negative environmental impacts of print flyers, it is a move that aligns with the growing preference for the ease and efficiency of digital flyer platforms.

BrandSpark recently launched a survey to better understand the shopper pulse throughout the current pandemic. One of their key findings is that shopper interest in sales and promotional communication has returned. 

Although “stock piling” was a trend when social distancing measures were first introduced, shoppers have become more strategic about their trips to the store, still fulfilling their needs in one haul but in a more reasonable fashion. 

According to BrandSpark, shoppers are still receptive and monitoring promotional content via flyers. In fact, after several weeks of spending more money on groceries in larger quantities, many consumers are eager to save.

Additionally, Statistics Canada reports that 3 in 10 Canadians are struggling to meet financial needs or pay for expenses such as groceries, rent, or mortgage payments. In this financially uncertain time, Canadians are even more motivated to browse deals and plan their shopping in an effort to cut costs. 

Not to mention, significant impacts on the food supply chain are causing grocery prices to spike across the country. Dr. Sylvain Charlesbois, a Professor in Food Distribution at Dalhousie University, reports that we are headed for an inflation rate of about 4% in 2020.

There is no question that Canadian residents want and need to access the deals provided by digital flyers.

Furthermore, preparing for shopping trips is more necessary than ever with Canadians also making an effort to limit their exposure to COVID-19. Today, the “get in get out” mentality is common when it comes to shopping in stores. 

In a National Post article, Suze Berkhout, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a Clinician-Investigator at the University Health Network, shares, “(Grocery store anxiety) is common across a lot of different people.”

As well, Halifax-based Clinical Social Worker Sue Mercer, a researcher and expert for the Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends visualizing a grocery store you typically shop at and making a list charting your path through it, as a way to reduce stress and the time spent in-store. (from National Post). 

While grocery delivery services certainly reduce one’s exposure in-store, they often come at an extra cost and have long wait times. Unfortunately, delivery services are not a reality for everyone. In fact, major Canadian retailers have implemented strict safety precautions and encourage those who are both able and less vulnerable to do their shopping in-store as to not overrun their delivery capacity. 

If many Canadians are still going to stores for essentials, digital flyer platforms like reebee play an important role in helping them seamlessly and strategically plan their trips, as well as saving them time and money. 

reebee offers convenient shopping features such as access to thousands of retail offers, the ability to search for particular products, and shopping list building. These tools have proven to be especially helpful amid COVID-19. 

From May to March, reebee saw a 11% lift in flyer readership as compared to this time frame in 2019. In addition, organic app downloads increased by 30%. 

While digital flyer apps were popular pre-COVID, now just about anyone can find merit in an app that makes shopping easier, quicker and less expensive. 

reebee recently shared a questionnaire with Canadian consumers to get a better understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted the grocery shopping experience. 39% reported being more prepared for their shopping by making a list beforehand and 78% of respondents said they are still looking for the best deals and utilizing flyers when shopping in-store.

When asked if they want paper flyers delivered or digital flyers given the current circumstances, nearly 60% responded that they already prefer digital and do not want to receive print. Last year, BrandSpark found that digital flyer usage is on an upward trend.

Not only do digital flyer communications benefit the consumer, retailers can better target, measure, and reach their customers. Many players in the retail industry have had to completely pivot amidst COVID-19, suggesting there is no better time than now to understand shopping behaviours and connect with customers online. 

Canadians are changing and growing in the ways they consume information, especially now – during a global crisis that has driven customers to engage with retail more so via online channels. The way shoppers interact with retail content largely remains through digital streams, even as more stores reopen. 

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