At the recent ACP Conference in San Antonio, I moderated an expert panel discussion on the topic of the status of digital coupons. For example, coupons that are printed at home or loaded from a website or shopper app directly to the shopper’s retail frequent shopper card or account are defined as such. As an entity, they are indeed growing in use and evolving in terms of their sophistication and consumer appeal.
As in all things related to the space of retail consumer marketing, I have found the proverbial “Venn Diagram” to be helpful in defining both the current status and desired direction of an initiative.
To that end, the adjacent diagram spells out one approach to understanding the elements of digital coupon proliferation and success.
1. Stakeholder ROI: Namely retailers and brands must see the monetized benefits of creating and distributing paperless coupons as an alternative to other collaborative consumer cost containment methods. These methods include the FSI (weekly inserted coupon books in Sunday paper), checkout coupons, on pack coupons, etc.
2. Consumer Ergonomics: Before any new medium can grow, it must be simple for the consumer to engage. We all agree that cutting paper coupons out of the newspaper is sub-optimal for the shopper. The hurdle for any replacement medium, particularly if it is digital, is answering the question….”Can it be engaged by the shopper easier than alternatives?”.
3. Content: While satisfactory conditions could exist for the first two aforementioned factors, without meaningful, relevant offers the shopper will not engage. There must be offers and content aplenty that represents the critical mass of shopper demand.
Satisfying all three elements is critical in finding the “sweet spot” of success, enabling digital coupons to continue to grow in both distribution and redemption. During our panel discussion, our experts from many of the leading marketing services that promote digital “couponing” offered their views on how the industry is doing vis-a-vis these three elements.
In short, most believe we are at a “departure point” in terms of retailer, brand, and consumer engagement of this new medium. It is also true that most believe that there is much work to be done before the “sweet spot” is reached.
In the weeks following, I will expand on each of the three elements depicted in the diagram and offer guidance (from the experts) in an effort to expedite the growth and shopper engagement of this new “digitized” way of conveying savings from the brand to the retailer and on to the shopper.