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Digital coupons, coupon apps, coupons on your smartphone that you can bring up at whim…it’s not your mother’s way of couponing anymore! The way consumers can interact with brands and access coupons today has exploded. Now this tried and true marketing tactic is more popular than ever, with over 2.8 billion coupons redeemed by consumers in the U.S. in 2013. FSI coupons still dominate, but digital coupons have quickly gained mainstream acceptance . Digital coupons are exploding in popularity: 66 million redeemed in 2013 – a 141 percent increase over 2012. So the question today is not “to coupon or not to coupon” but rather, how to creatively utilize couponing as a marketing tactic to drive brand awareness, purchase and build brand equity?
Mobile devices drive increase in coupon use
The increasing availability of coupons through our mobile devices makes it simple for people from all walks of life to “coupon” on their own time, in their own way. It’s no longer a matter of waiting with scissors in hand for the Sunday circular in the hope that there’s a coupon for that product you really want. Now, a quick visit to a site like Coupons.com, SavingStar, or RedPlum will let you know what’s out there. In fact, you don’t even need to go online to find out. You can be at a store, spot an item you need, and just scan its bar code with your mobile phone. You’ll know within seconds if there is a coupon for it. Then simply have the cashier scan the coupon code that appears on your phone.
Marketing research site eMarketer says that the number of people who redeem such coupons will increase 11% this year. The same study says mobile plays the largest part in this increase: more than 28% of people who own a mobile device redeemed a coupon in 2013. More than one-third of all smartphone users in 2014 will use a coupon obtained via app, mobile Internet, or mobile barcode. 59% consumers state that out of all the different types of promotions, digital coupons sway them the most when it comes to influencing a purchase decision (RetailMeNot).
The way people use coupons is evolving. Couponing as a brand marketing tactic is evolving as well
Contrary to old-school thought that couponing diminishes the value of a brand for a short term gain, evidence is clear that people like and appreciate coupons. Consumers have a better impression of the brands that provide coupons: 68% strongly believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a brand (RetailMeNot).
“The fact of the matter is that research studies have proven time and time again that consumer promotions with a coupon centerpiece that are well thought-out and creatively designed, build repeat sales and brand equity,” says Phil Saifer, President of Vertical Marketing Network, a leading integrated marketing agency. “The ROI is always higher with coupons versus temporary price reductions at shelf or similar trade promotions. And when utilized in an integrated communications strategy with mass reach vehicles, we have an excellent platform to tell a brand’s value story to a consumer.”
The inventive way brands are using coupons in their marketing mix bears this out: brands now regularly offer special promotions on their Facebook pages and tweet out shareable coupons that can be downloaded, printed out and redeemed at brick-and-mortar stores. Websites offer digital coupons to use with their products at checkout.
Brands have developed creative ways to incorporate coupons into their marketing mix. The Six Flags Amusement Parks and Coca Cola partnership is a great example: Coke cans are imprinted with a special discount code. When the thrill seeker brings the empty can to a Six Flags park, the coupon is redeemed for a substantial discount: up to $20 off a regularly priced ticket. In exchange, Coke is included in Six Flag’s radio and TV ads. By joining forces, they’ve created a win-win-win situation: a win for Six Flags, a win for Coke, and, of course, a win for the guy who can’t wait to scream his lungs out on the latest and greatest roller coaster. Another company using coupons in a new way is Etsy.com. A “thank you” digital coupon is emailed to customers after every purchase, both to show customers how much they are appreciated and to build loyalty. Customer love this!
So who actually uses coupons?
Despite the fallacies that coupons are only really used by the poor and elderly or not used by the growing Hispanic population, the fact is that coupons are extremely popular with the more affluent consumers, millennials and all population bases including Hispanics. Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to use coupons as those earning less than $35,000. College degree holders are also twice as likely to use coupons as those who did not graduate from high school. (Coupons.org via CNBC). Millennials are using coupons more than their parents: according to a Valassis study, 96% of millennials use coupons. Teens are following the trend: 56% of 13-17 year olds use coupons or coupon codes (RedPlum). And U.S. Hispanics have a higher usage rate of digital coupons than the general population (Valassis).
Americans love getting a great deal! They appreciate the brands that provide greater value to them in the form of coupon promotions. Combined with consumers’ ever-faster adoption of technology, this has made couponing more important than ever.
So what successful couponing strategies has your brand used? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments section below. Meantime, here are 20 compelling couponing factoids to inspire further thought:
Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
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