Monday, March 9, 2009

Coupon Craze Changes Course

More consumers are redeeming more coupons to stretch their budgets as the economic crisis continues. Traditional printed coupons (such as the Valpak envelope shown above) haven't gone away, but marketers are experimenting to increase redemption and build brands with more than a "cents off" approach.

Example: Procter & Gamble is releasing a coupon booklet that supports three causes. Every time a consumer redeems one of these coupons, P&G donates to one of the designated charities. The idea is to appeal to consumers who are interested in getting the most value for their money. Restaurants are climbing on the coupon bandwagon too, hoping to bring customers back more often.

Some companies prefer electronic couponing, which has been around for some time, posting digital coupons to save on print/distribution costs and tap into online shopping momentum. Digital coupons reportedly enjoy a 13% redemption rate, compared with the paltry 1% redemption rate for traditional print coupons. Fast-food restaurants are especially interested in mobile couponing, reaching consumers who have opted-in to receive coupons via cell phone.

This is the time to experiment and see how coupons change customers' behavior. Depending on the product/service and customer base, mounting an e-coupon or mobile coupon program would be a small but key investment in tomorrow, despite today's economic squeeze. Target, target, target, and then test, test, test. Try for efficiency and effectiveness in this budget year. And stay true to the brand no matter what promotional technique you choose.

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