Coupons might seem old-fashioned, but they remain a major part of the shopper experience, with 90% of consumers saying they obtain them from a variety of print and digital sources. In fact, coupons may matter more for customer acquisition than brands realize: 79% of self-defined brand-loyal consumers are influenced to buy a brand they wouldn’t typically have purchased due to a coupon’s influence, according to research from Valassis.
“The only true loyalty consumers have is looking for value,” said Curtis Tingle, CMO of Valassis in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That value means different things…it may be an experience they’re looking for in a particular retailer. Consumers always want a good deal, they want the right price for the service or product they’re receiving, and coupons definitely influence that.”
Tingle noted that nearly 56% of coupons redeemed come from new and lapsed users of a brand, giving brand marketers an opportunity to create relationships with new potential consumers. At the same time, since established shoppers use nearly half of these coupons, retailers must continue offering deals that keep them from defecting to a competing brand.
“For the consumer, there’s a joy of discovery and/or a joy of control that comes from coupons,” Tingle noted. “We work with a number of retailers that see stronger incrementality coming when they take a coupon and a product, compared to a pure price deal communicated at shelf and in a circular. The reason for that is the ‘thrill of the hunt’ in finding that deal and using it. There’s also the flexibility of using that savings wherever you want.”
Reaching The Shopper At All Times
Retailers can leverage consumers’ desire to find deals at all points of the shopper journey through coupons, and can even tailor them to the different types of purchases consumers make. Brand marketers can influence consumers at numerous points including:
At home: 82% of consumers switch stores to take advantage of weekly specials and 67% decide which store to shop, based on where they can use paperless discounts received via mobile devices;
In-store: 81% of shoppers search for deals via in-store circulars while shopping, and 51% make a purchase based on a mobile notification received in store; and
After purchase: Among mobile coupon users, 79% share brand reviews, along with information about product savings, with family and friends following a purchase.
“Consumers not only shop across different channels, their shopping trips have multiple purposes,” Tingle said. “They may be looking for dinner tonight, or they’re stocking up on household supplies, and all of those shopping trip types influence where they will shop, what deals they’re looking for and in essence, cause them to shift loyalty rapidly. Targeted messaging allows you to identify that shopper and give them the right level of incentive. In some cases, it’s just advertising your existing price points so that the shopper is aware of them.”
Advertising these price points across all channels is vital, considering that 86% of shoppers make a purchase based on an in-store discount. Brands can share coupons beforehand via email or social media to notify consumers of impending in-store deals. Lastly, retailers can leverage mobile to increase brand loyalty: 53% of consumers scan receipts with a mobile device to receive cash back and/or points.
The Valassis 2K17 Coupon Intelligence Report indicated that although coupons are used across all demographics, Millennials are the driving force: 94% are using coupons versus 88% in 2016 — the only demographic group showing growth year-over-year.
“With the expansion of social media and the fact that we’ve gone through the Great Recession, there is a very strong ritual demand for deals and value,” Tingle said. “That’s reinforced across all generations. Millennials are all very coupon- and promotion-sensitive, and for marketers that creates a challenge about activating the right consumers.”
Believe it or not, snail mail remains the most popular way to obtain coupons, with 44% of consumers preferring this channel. But smartphones and mobile devices aren’t far behind. Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers prefer getting coupons through these devices, more than the 24% that preferred them in 2016.