"Direct" effect

The corona pandemic is putting the focus of advertising on the individual home: mail advertising is most noticeable there, but TV ads have also become real "eye-catchers".

Corona has affected us all in some way. Working in a home office for the first time, shopping online for the first time and spending most of your time at home. Corona has created a new reality for many people in Switzerland. A study by Intervista shows that the unprecedented situation has fundamentally changed people's consumer behavior and media use. The study revealed, for example, that during the corona pandemic, a full 52 percent displayed a change in purchasing and consumption behavior: For example, more attention was paid to Swiss products, to quality and also to bargains.

New attention to the channels

The study, which was commissioned by Swiss Post, also shows that new attention is being paid to advertising channels. Forty-eight percent of respondents said that personally addressed advertising mailings caught their attention by far the most. This is followed by TV advertising at 41 percent and, at 40 percent each, by the attention paid to advertisements in newspapers or magazines and brochure inserts in print products. Another finding of the survey (of over 1,000 people) is that the younger generation has become screen-weary.

"No big surprise"

The fact that personally addressed advertising mailings are the most noticed by Swiss consumers (and that this effect even increased during Corona) does not surprise Raymond Dettwiler, lecturer in marketing, customer journey and health marketing at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). "No, after the digital euphoria, we can increasingly observe a reasonable 'leveling off'." The more enforced home offices become, the more valuable haptic communication media become, which also applies to personal advertising by mail, Dettwiler said.

Stefan Vogler, lecturer and head of studies at the Hochschule für Wirtschaft Zürich (HWZ), is also not at all surprised by the results of the survey. He says the boom in online communication has led to a decrease in letter mail, while mailboxes are overflowing. "We don't get much mail these days, so the attention of a physical mailing is increasing." Inserts, such as a brochure, can be flipped through, put away, picked up again, he said. Paper quality also appeals to the haptic sense, Vogler says.

Sense of ownership thanks to touch

"Touching instead of clicking on the screen leads to a stronger sense of ownership," says Oliver Egger, Managing Director Media and Advertising Market at Swiss Post. Various studies indicate that printed advertising or the touching of advertising has a more intensive effect than a presentation on the display. Furthermore, information texts that are read on paper also stick better. "But a big factor in the success of physical mailings is also the personal approach and the message tailored to the recipient," Egger continues.

This is because addressed direct mail enables precise targeting. Personal mails received on a PC or cell phone cannot be touched, but digital mailings can also be high-quality contacts in each case. In addition, personal mails are much cheaper than personal letters. "The big challenge with sending e-mails or newsletters is the time factor: viewing time and contact quality are usually very low," says Swiss Post's media and advertising market specialist. This is due, among other things, to the fact that the target person receives the digital message at an inconvenient time or in the wrong place. "Physical mailings, on the other hand, reach people where they are most likely to engage with advertising - at home, when they consciously take time to read their mail."

Back to physical direct mail: today, addressed advertising is often also sent as an insert, for example together with an invoice or a bank statement. Clearly, the opening rate is even higher with such letters and the enclosed advertising benefits from additional attention. In the best case, addressed advertising mail is not perceived as 'aggressive' advertising at all. Instead, it is perceived as a desirable communication measure, because the recipient has registered with the advertising company's mailing list and is perhaps even pleased to be valued as a regular customer.

Addressed advertising will definitely be an issue for Aldi Suisse in the future. The retailer cannot yet give any examples. Like Landi or Fust, Aldi Suisse currently relies primarily on unaddressed advertising brochures for direct mailing: "Here, the price-performance ratio is still very good, as addressed advertising is considerably more expensive," writes the Aldi Suisse media office when asked.

Crossmedia performs

Advertising on TV is also well remembered. The study by intervista shows, as already mentioned, that 41 percent of the people surveyed can remember TV commercials well. Simone Schulz, Head of Screenforce Genre Marketing Switzerland, is pleased that TV or TV advertising was able to confirm its great relevance in the advertising landscape even during the pandemic: "This is in line with our own studies, such as the Screenforce study 'Track The Success', according to which TV advertising continues to have a great advertising impact and positive perception." Ultimately, he said, it's the cross-media mix that leads to success, not just the last click. "Well-designed commercials often consist of several components so that people engage with them for longer, confirms Oliver Egger. The more senses that are addressed, such as sight, touch, hearing or smell, the greater the advertising impact. "What is particularly exciting here is that an additional sense addressed does not lead to an accumulation or doubling of perception, but to a tenfold increase!"

So what kind of advertising works best when you look across all genres? "Memorable images, sparingly witty punchlines, simple advertising language and as little change as possible in the design over time; because the often invoked wear-and-tear phenomenon is not empirically proven," says lecturer Raymond Dettwiler.

Changes in consumer behavior and media use may now require a rethink of media planning. In today's vibrant Corona society, many things may already be different again tomorrow. To stay on the ball, companies should invest in hybrid, agile dialogue with audiences, according to the FHNW marketing expert. Hybrid dialog, he says, means an effective mix of digital and traditional dialog with people. By agile dialog, he means iteratively trying out new advertising content or new forms of advertising: "Better to be 80 percent faster to market than 200 percent and miss market trends."


"Some advertisers underestimate direct mail"

Dr. Oliver Egger, Managing Director Media and Advertising Market at Swiss Post, explains what companies are doing well when it comes to direct mail - and where there is still potential.

m&k: Oliver Egger, the study by Intervista concludes that Corona has created a new reality for many people in Switzerland. The home is to be seen as a new planning value with home office. Have all companies already realized this?

Dr. Oliver Egger: Some of them realized the new situation immediately and reacted quickly. They have adapted their offers to the new situation with a great deal of creativity. With these advertising customers, we are seeing a clear
higher booking volume. We can also state that many companies are cutting their budgets less frequently with us than with other advertising channels. Of course, there are still some companies that are waiting for everything to go back to the way it was ...

You describe direct marketing as a "below-the-line medium". Can you elaborate on that a bit more?

I notice that some advertisers underestimate direct mail. This may be due to the fact that they assume that their own mailboxes are used for other mailboxes and are therefore not aware of the quality of contact and the impact of physical advertising mailings. I can only say to these companies: Anyone who thinks that the competition does not send direct mailings is mistaken.

What does a perfect personal ad message look like today?

That can't really be answered in one sentence. I'll try anyway: Take a look at the entries and winners of the SDV-DM Awards or dialog marketing awards such as those at Cannes Lions. A lot of things are done right there.

What needs to be considered so that the addressed advertising mail is not perceived by the customer as advertising at all?

Personally tailored, relevant messages that immediately convey the benefits and added value of an offer. I'm always delighted when customers tell me that an advertising recipient personally thanked them for the friendly offer.

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