Consumers hungry for internet-printable coupons

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 19, 2008

As the UK consumer continues to embrace the internet and become increasingly sophisticated in terms of online behaviour, advertisers are being advised by Couponstar to respond with more innovative and interactive marketing campaigns.

While a significant number of UK consumers now prefer internet-printable vouchers over traditional printed coupons, FMCG companies are still delivering only 2% - 3% of their coupons via the internet, the company found.

Increasing redemption rates
With UK coupon redemption rates reaching 25% and beyond, as well as providing a measurable increase in in-store activity and consumer interaction, Couponstar asserts that internet printable vouchers provide a quantifiable return on investment for advertisers.

According to Jared Keen, managing director for Couponstar, the consumer's adoption of online and digital technologies is changing purchasing behaviour across the board. However, while online advertising is on the increase, many companies (and FMCG manufacturers in particular) are not yet maximizing the impact of their promotional spending. This, Keen suggested, may be partly because they don't fully understand the growing sophistication of the online audience, or their advertising campaigns are failing to react quickly enough to the fast-changing online behaviour and expectations of consumers.

Online consumers are growing
According to research by NOP World, two-thirds of the UK's adult population use the internet regularly, with more than 83% of those having been internet users for at least three years. Among internet users, a growing number are women and over-55s.

It is no surprise, then, that internet advertising revenues are also increasing, with figures from the communications watchdog Ofcom suggesting that advertisers in the UK spend more money per person on internet advertising than their counterparts in other countries.

As competition for the online consumer grows, organisations are increasingly questioning the effectiveness of the online marketing model. For FMCG companies and High Street retailers there are very real issues concerning the link between online marketing spend and offline consumer activity.

Targeting high-income women
These companies also need to question whether or not to continue their focus on traditional print media and television advertising when the mass market spends more of its time online than interacting with those channels. According to research by IPC Media, 71% of women go online every day, spending an average 105 minutes and visiting 9 web sites in each session.

These women are not only sharing information with friends, increasingly in online communities, but the increasingly affluent society means they also have surprisingly high disposable incomes. Indeed, 80% of women are still the primary grocery household shopper and they are increasingly looking for relevant offers that reflect online activity and interests, making this segment very valuable to the FMCG manufacturer and retailer alike.

Sophisticated audience
With increasing online maturity comes growing user sophistication. Many consumers are becoming extremely adept at complex searches, avoiding direct marketing messages and increasingly self-selecting information about products and services. They are also keen to embrace new levels of interaction with companies and brands online, according to Couponstar.

The growing demand for online vouchers was recently demonstrated by the extraordinary response to 40%-off vouchers from the UK-based alcohol retailer Threshers. Intended for suppliers and their friends, the vouchers ended up being widely distributed via blogs, personal e-mails, and online chat rooms, creating a great deal of consumer demand.

Security issues addressed
This, however, suggests that coupons are not only popular but also that they sometimes have the ability to be too popular. However, with the right technology approach in place, companies can easily keep control over their online coupon offers, and prevent unrestricted forwarding and copying on vouchers.

By using an application that ensures the coupon is never seen on screen or stored as a file, users cannot either change the coupon's value or barcode or forward it on as an attachment via email. It is also possible to limit the number of times each coupon is printed by any one device, even if the coupon's web link is copied or distributed before being used.

Using Couponstar's own CouponNET network and technology platform, advertisers can also choose to impose a limit on the total number of coupons that can be printed for any campaign, avoiding the possibility of excessive redemptions.

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