Coupon marketing has changed dramatically since it was first introduced by Asa Candler in 1887. Asa was the co-owner of Coca-Cola who came up with the idea of giving away coupons that could be redeemed for a free glass of Coke. It was so successful that within two decades the coupon was redeemed by 8.5 million customers. Surprisingly it was not until 1909 that another company, C.W. Post offered a 1 cent discount on a box of grape nuts cereal.
Fast forward to today where the options to develop a couponing strategy range from the traditional printed version to a host of electronic applications that cover a broad spectrum of possibilities.
When you look at some of the stats it can be seen that couponing is playing a vital role in some marketing strategies. Valassis, one of the largest coupon distributors/processors in the world reported that 90 per cent of consumers use some form of couponing. On a global scale Orian Research reports that by 2025 the use of mobile coupons is expected to grow by over 56 per cent. Closer to home, ebates.ca in a 2018 survey found that 56 per cent of Canadian respondents preferred shopping during the holiday season with retailers who offered a coupon.
Couponing, like every other marketing strategy, requires a well-executed plan in order to be successful. The first order of business is to do some research. What are others in your category offering? What sort of value can you set for your offer (e.g. percent discount, bonus offer) that would appeal to your target group?
The most important aspect of your strategy will be to ascertain how and where your coupons will be distributed. If you are using traditional methods such as print, what medium will most likely reach your target audience? If you are going after the online community what platforms would your targeted customers use the most?
The use of coupons is not limited to retail type businesses. They can help almost any business, small or large, product or service-oriented to achieve specific marketing goals. Whether it is to get rid of slow-moving items, provide incentive to buy more, build a customer base or enhance a referral program, coupons can also provide the opportunity to measure media effectiveness or get customer feedback.
The key to a successful couponing strategy is to plan well and budget accordingly. Be wary of overdoing your offers as that can diminish their value in the eyes of the consumer and give rise to their expectations of always being able to get a lower price by waiting for the next coupon offer.
Coupons alone will not build brand equity, however, they can help provide for a greater experience when customers are interacting with your business. If you are considering couponing take the time to go online and educate yourself. There’s more to couponing than snipping, clipping and scanning.
Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org