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Personal touch: Taking advantage of print media’s personalised opportunities

Print media is becoming increasingly personalised, targeting consumers with content and offers tailored just for them. But what’s behind this shift to individual targeting and how can you take advantage of it?

A few years ago, passengers flying from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Milan, Italy got a surprise when they boarded their TAM Airlines plane. In each seat pocket was a magazine. Now, for anyone that’s flown in the past 40 years, this won’t come as much of a shock. But that magazine was a fantastic demonstration of what can be done with a great idea, a bit of research and the latest digital print technology.

The magazine was called Ownboard and each copy was an entirely personalised issue tailored exactly to the individual passenger receiving it. It featured stories and features about their interests and hobbies, events they recently went to, and their friends’ activity, all with pictures taken from their social media accounts.

Passenger reaction was stunning: time spent reading the magazine increased by 1,200 percent, they all took the magazine away to show their friends, and in a survey 100 percent agreed that “TAM cares about them”. As a way to liven up a long flight, it certainly beats Friends reruns.

Up close and personal

Personalised media is now a very large part of almost all customer-facing industry business and marketing models. The widespread gathering (and subsequent buying and selling) of customer data has meant that companies have a vast mountain of personal information about their customers. This has created a shift in focus from mass media to individual marketing, with many companies deciding that the only way to cut through the media noise is to approach their customers with highly targeted messages using personalised information and offers to grab their attention.

In the online, mobile and social arenas, this shift is obvious, but now personalisation is coming to print, with magazines, direct mail and catalogues all using data-driven digital print to create attention-grabbing campaigns that bring brands closer to their customers.

“Personalisation can give a real uplift to any print campaign,” says Kellie Northwood, CEO of The Real Media Collective. “We’ve seen retailers work with printers to create different versions of catalogues to reflect different stores having different best-selling products. It’s about using a smarter approach with newer production technologies and customer insights to deliver an increased ROI.”

Supermarket sweep

Another example of effective print personalisation was a coupon campaign for Colruyt. The Belgian discount chain has over 200 stores and relies heavily on print, however their traditional direct mail coupon book was losing effectiveness. What they did was make a smaller version, down from 32 pages to just four, tailoring each set of offers to the individual preferences of their most active customers.

This approach had a dramatic effect on the brand’s success. Not only did the personalised coupons increase spending, producing over $360 million in revenue growth, but they also increased membership of Colruyt’s loyalty card scheme, from 50,000 to over a million.

“A larger percentage of households now use our promotional coupons,” says Bruno Dirkx, analytics team leader at Colruyt, “and the increase also resulted in a larger average spent in our stores by cardholders. Equally important, it indicates a clear increase in customer loyalty.”

The power of one

There are clear benefits to personalised print marketing. Your customer will feel more valued, more understood and more likely to read or use your tailored content or offers. Loyalty will increase and, if you add a genuinely creative element to your campaign, it could stay in the home and become a real talking point, making it more memorable and spreading brand awareness.

The best way to approach personalisation is to talk to a printer that offers data-driven services and understand the full potential of this rapidly developing technology. Consider options such as personalised covers or sections rather than entire magazines or catalogues, and think about exactly what you want to get out of the campaign.

In the wake of the Facebook scandal, you may not want to show your customers just how much you know about them – no one wants to be reminded of decade-old hairstyles – but get it right and it could transform your brand.


For any further information please contact:

Media Contact
Duyen Nguyen / duyen@thermc.com.au / 03 9421 2206

About The Real Media Collective

The Collective is a not-for-profit industry association representing paper, print, publishing, packaging, mail and distribution sectors of media across Australia and New Zealand.

All activities and communications are delivered in a considered, researched, balanced and verifiable manner offering a sophisticated industry voice across producers, distributors, buyers and end-users.

Please visit The Real Media Collective website for more information.

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