Thursday, September 4, 2008

Performance Insider: Less Pain At Pump, But Wary Consumers Still Pinching Pennies With Coupons

Less Pain At Pump, But Wary Consumers Still Pinching Pennies With Coupons

Although energy prices have slightly decreased recently, consumer concern about the economy is still on the rise - as well as their increased usage of coupons. In June, the Wall Street Journal ran a MarketWatch article, "Surfing the Web to Save on Food." The article discussed a recent Hitwise study which found visits to coupon Web sites increased 56% for the week ended June 6, in comparison to the same week in 2007. This study was done when gas prices hit the seemingly astronomical $4 mark. The Energy Information Administration now states that the average U.S. retail gasoline price is $3.20 - however, the decrease in price has not calmed consumers' worries about inflation, especially for food and everyday household items., a Web site that tracks grocery-store sales and pairs them with available coupons to bring the price down even more, has seen traffic more than double in 2008 compared to last year. Economic concerns have consumers being more cautious about their spending -- taking the extra effort to find the best price and save a few bucks.

According to Prospectiv's August 2008 Consumer Coupon Poll, 72% of consumers surveyed said they are using more coupons to make their money go further than they did just six months ago, while 75% stated that economic concerns were the main reason for their increased coupon usage.

As consumers are looking for more ways to save, marketers -- especially consumer packaged goods and retail marketers -- need to take note and act. If consumers are looking for coupons, the best way to entice them to buy your products is to give them what they want -- coupons. Eighty-seven percent of consumers responding to Prospectiv's survey said they'd be more likely to shop at a retailer that offers coupons. This high percentage of consumers is an excellent opportunity for marketers to latch on to.

An easy way to get coupons and promotions into the hands of your best customers is to mail or email them to the customers in your database. Marketers with customer databases have valuable information at the tips of their fingers. This information should be used to segment and target customers according to their interests and preferences. Also, it will allow you to provide your customers with special offers, coupons and deals that speak to their needs. In another recent poll, 56 % of consumers said they wanted email newsletters that contained coupons from their favorite brands.

If you don't have a robust customer database, I suggest you make that a priority in your marketing plan. There are many ways to do this, including using a customer acquisition expert to assist you in these efforts. In the meantime, make sure that your promotions are easy to locate on your Web site. Even though more consumers are are looking online for coupons, they don't want to be hassled with searching through countless pages on your site.

During tough economic times, coupons are a great way for marketers to reach out to their customers on a one-to-one basis. Marketers can strengthen relationships with existing customers by providing coupons that speak to their needs and save them money Coupons also help marketers reach out to new customers -- making them aware of current deals and offering a new alternative to their current product or service.

When times are tough and wallets are tight, marketers need to reconsider the way they reach out to consumers. Consumers are looking to find ways to save money. Coupons offer marketers another way to communicate with their customers, strengthen customer relations and build brand loyalty with money-saving deals consumers want.

Doyle is President & CEO of Prospectiv, a provider of online customer acquisition solutions. He can be reached at

Performance Insider for Thursday, September 4, 2008:

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