Fewer retailers are investing in local advertising, while more are marketing their stores through community engagement, according to Convenience Store’s 2013 Product Survey, conducted by HIM Research & Consulting.

The survey of 150 convenience retailers showed that only 12% were advertising versus 34% last year, while 11% were marketing their stores by sponsoring local events, up from 3% in 2012.

“I’m glad to see that convenience stores’ sponsorship of local events is increasing,” said Dennis Williams of Broadway Premier in Edinburgh. “We’ve sponsored local events for years. That way the press coverage does the advertising for you. If I was going to advertise, it would be too expensive.”

Marketing Expert Stephanie Rice agreed that advertising in local papers was no longer cost effective for many c-stores. “Local papers have amalgamated so advertising is expensive and you are reaching an audience beyond your store, whereas sponsoring local events is an easy way to raise awareness with customers and people living in your area.”

HIM concurred that a growing number of convenience retailers were realising the marketing benefits of local interaction. “Forward thinking retailers know that becoming an integral part of their neighbours’ and customers’ lives will help them stand out from the competition and ultimately drive loyalty to their store,” said HIM insights director Katie Littler.

“However, it is still important for symbol groups, rather than individual stores, to advertise their brand. We know that national brand awareness of some of the symbol fascias is low compared with managed stores and that very few UK adults feel loyalty to one particular convenience chain or symbol group. If shoppers haven’t heard of a symbol group fascia, they are less likely to attract passing traffic.”

Allied Bakeries is offering retailers the chance to win £2,000 worth of funding to put towards a community event in an exclusive competition for retail readers of www.conveniencestore.com. See here for more details.