Retail Chains Benefit from “The Recency Theory”

retail“Spend your media dollars as efficiently as possible … only advertise when you have the greatest chance for success.”

If you’re responsible for the television advertising budget for a small to medium size retail chain and you’re not employing The Recency Theory into your media strategy – then keep reading.

Don’t worry; I won’t bore you to death with some technical dissertation. Although this concept may be different from what you’re doing now, it’s really more about common sense than anything else.

The Recency Theory states: Ads work best when people are ready to buy. Pretty simple, huh? It also favors reach over frequency, which is especially beneficial for those chains struggling with limited ad budgets.

Under The Recency Theory, commercials are bought to target consumers as close to the time of decision as possible. The closer your message gets to the time of decision – the greater the impact. On the other hand, the influence of the ad exposure diminishes the further away from the time of decision.

For example, an Olive Garden commercial is more effective right before dinner time than in the early morning. Logic dictates that Joe is going to be more receptive to an All-You-Can-Eat Pasta offer when he’s hungry for dinner than right before his morning coffee.

Under The Recency Theory, consumers have a role in making the advertising work.

  • The advertising itself did not get Joe to perk-up to the offer. The hunger in the pit of his stomach did.
  •  The TV advertising simply reminded Joe how hungry he was and at the same time presented him with a timely offer.
  • In fact, Joe may have been exposed to multiple Olive Garden commercials throughout other time periods, but hardly noticed them because he was not thinking about food at the time.

With The Recency Theory you only advertise when you have the greatest chance for success. You choose reach over frequency. In the case above, one strategically placed commercial at dinner time trumps two or three commercials placed in the morning hours.

It’s all about influencing the purchasing decision while spending your media dollars as efficiently as possible. The recency theory requires retail chains (and their agencies) to look beyond traditional measuring metrics and to rely on something that is hard to quantify on a flowchart: Common Sense!


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