Harvey Norman is an Australian-based multi-national retailer of homeware and electronics, currently operating 14 stores in Ireland. A substantial online sales operation in addition to its 600,000-square-foot retail space makes Harvey Norman a major leading retail brand in Ireland.

Additionally, the Web site  recently secured the 2016 Retail Excellence Ireland “Web site of the Year” award.

Readers of The Irish Times were receptive to Harvey Norman's presence in the publication.
Readers of The Irish Times were receptive to Harvey Norman's presence in the publication.

When originally establishing itself in the Irish market, Harvey Norman adapted a “yell and sell” approach to ensure rapid growth of brand recognition. Loud, aggressive slogans and advertising were seen as legitimate means of drawing Irish consumers’ focus to the Harvey Norman brand.

However, in a 2010 interview with the Australian publication Appliance Retailer, Harvey Norman Ireland’s CEO Blaine Callard acknowledged issues with this approach. While recognising the strategy’s success in building brand awareness, Callard felt it may have retarded development of its furniture and bedding business, which is less price-focused and more about style and fashion.

Thus, Harvey Norman’s “yell and sell” marketing approach was abandoned, and the brand has successfully repositioned itself as a more upmarket retailer. To this end, in recent years, Harvey Norman has invested heavily with The Irish Times to grow market share among a high social class audience willing to invest in quality goods for their homes and themselves.

Harvey Norman’s activity with The Irish Times in the past year has involved publication of high-quality glossy brochure inserts in addition to double-page spreads and full-page ads throughout the newspaper and its supplements.

Through The Irish Times Reader Panel (run in conjunction with our business partner RAM Panel), we can offer Harvey Norman ongoing proof of advertising effectiveness and the success of its brand repositioning.

Via RAM’s “standardised survey” tool, we tested seven print ads over the past year of activity and ran one ad hoc survey on readers’ experience with the brand. Cumulative results of our research show strong engagement and action among our readers on seeing Harvey Norman advertising, proving Harvey Norman’s investment is justified.

Cumulatively, the three brochure inserts and four print ads we tested over the past year provided:

  • 1.4 million views by our readership.

  • A quarter of a million readers intending to visit a Harvey Norman store.

  • 275,000 readers intending to visit the Harvey Norman Web site.

Our ad hoc survey shows Irish Times readers all over Ireland had positive experiences with Harvey Norman.

In particular, our readers underline the friendliness and helpfulness of Harvey Norman staff, in addition to noting the quality of the range of the company’s products.

The success of Harvey Norman’s brand realignment is evidenced by TGI Republic of Ireland Survey, adding further weight to the accuracy of our reader panel research.

TGI shows the number of daily Irish Times newspaper readers shopping in Harvey Norman in an average year increased by 86% since 2009. Similarly, the number of Irish Times Magazine average issue readers shopping there increased by 136% in the same timeframe (via Kantar Media TGI Republic of Ireland Survey 2015).

The benefit of providing ongoing “return on investment” metrics for print campaigns via our reader panel cannot be understated. Not only does it allow the publication to prove the impact of clients’ advertising inventory, but clients themselves can use the information to their best advantage regarding brand strategy.

As Jennifer Fitzsimons, Harvey Norman Ireland’s National Advertising Manager, comments: “Utilising the Irish Times RAM panel for research gave us insight into our current shoppers as well as non-shoppers. The findings of this research then plays a role in our campaign planning and helps to direct our strategy when it comes to promoting our brand.”