I am amazed at how rapidly the digital coupon market is evolving. I recently was invited to speak at the Shopper Marketing Expo sponsored by the Path to Purchase Institute where I discussed what some of our customers and the market is doing. The topic? What’s New in Digital Coupons and the Path to Purchase. I thought I’d share some of my presentation in this post. You can also replay an audio version of the presentation by clicking here.
Digital coupons are growing rapidly, with total downloads across our network more than doubling this year from 2010. Digital coupons are growing because they deliver results by increasing reach, trial, and most importantly, incremental sales beyond what retailers and CPGs can achieve with paper coupons.
Here are the three key areas we believe will continue to create impact through 2012:
- Retailer websites becoming the primary destination. Retail websites are emerging as the go-to destination for digital coupon downloads. Indeed, across our retailer network, well over 80% of all digital coupons are downloaded from retailer websites (the rest are from consumer destination sites like AOL Shortcuts, Cellfire, or P&G eSAVER). By aggregating digital coupons from multiple coupon providers, retailers are able to offer shoppers a “best of the web” source for coupons. More importantly, retailers and their CPG partners are using digital coupons to enhance and extend the sales plan online by, for example, featuring digital coupon call outs in the print circular, creating exclusive digital merchandising events tied to in-store promotions such as March Madness or Feeding America, and delivering personalized offers.
- Social networking is evolving to be a powerful sales tool. Social networking sites provide a vast new opportunity for retailers and CPGs to reach and engage shoppers. Indeed, according to recent research, 25% of shoppers visit a retailer or CPG Facebook page at least once a month, primarily to find sales information and coupons. That’s a staggering number and far beyond what it was at time last year. Kroger has had particular success using digital coupons to engage its shoppers on Facebook. For example, it regularly features a Deal of the Day coupon tied to its Cart Buster in-store event. More recently, Giant Eagle launched a holiday-themed Facebook app that included recipes, digital coupons, and a sweepstakes promotion.
- Mobile couponing provides an always-on channel. Although it is still in its infancy, the mobile phone has an unparalleled opportunity to transform couponing in particular and the in-store experience more broadly. Already today, more than one-third of smart phone users say they have used their phones to research food prices or product information while in the grocery store. ShopRite, for example, has added digital coupons to its existing mobile apps and mobile Internet sites. Shoppers can access all of the digital coupons available at ShopRite’s online digital coupon center and add them to their cards in real time. Shoppers can also use the app to see what coupons they have already downloaded. Longer term, the opportunity is to use mobile to create a richer shopping experience by incorporating such things as QR codes, health and wellness data, in-store mapping and product search, and personalized offers.
Digital coupons are already playing a key role along the path to purchase. Their impact will only grow as more retailers, brand manufacturers, and ultimately shoppers adopt this new technology.