Couponing in the Digital Age

NEW YORK Coupons are already well-established as a promotional vehicle in the U.S., with coupon-clipping Americans comprising 86 percent of households and driving 89 percent of all-outlet dollar sales, according to data compiled by Nielsen.

But that doesn’t mean manufacturers and retailers shouldn’t be looking for ways to make it simpler for households to receive and redeem coupons.

Writing in the December issue of Nielsen’s “Consumer Insight” online newsletter, Todd Hale, svp, consumer and shopper insights, Nielsen, outlines what today’s coupon shopper can expect as new technologies revolutionize couponing methods and media:

1. Reduced reliance on paper-based feature and coupon circulation. A race for dominance is taking place with computer-based Internet applications, mobile phones, credit and frequent shopper cards and in-store applications. Global positioning systems (GPS), radio frequency identity tags (RFID), eye movement tracking cameras and similar devices will enable location- and interest-specific promotional offers to be delivered at actionable sites.

2. Electronic or store entrance coupon delivery. Instead of tagging consumers as they leave the store post-purchase, next generation systems will deliver coupons via mobile phones, Internet or in-store devices when shoppers enter the retail location or are in the mood and in the aisle, ready to buy.

3. Smart appliances provide in-store shopping assistance. What’s for dinner tonight? Visit the produce or meat department and allow your personal chef avatar to generate some electronic menu suggestions and automatically create a shopping list with aisle and item locator cues.

4. Stores offering engagement and entertainment opportunities. Look for personal shopper holograms to guide you through the store or shelf talkers activated by your cell phone to offer special discounts. Walmart has pledged to invest $10 million and two years of testing to determine the optimal placement of in-store screens and special shopper programming.

5. One-to-one personalized promotions. Stores will become increasingly interactive and consumer-specific, marrying data from multiple sources to deliver an involving shopping experience that reflects individual interests and buying preferences. Social networks based on shopping proclivities will be formed to build demand and drive sales.

6. Integrated strategic promotional planning. Shopper marketing comes of age, dominating the retail landscape, displacing product-centric marketing planning. Technology enables a holistic planning approach that puts the consumer front and center while “benefitting the brand, the consumer, the shopper and the retailer.”