As the economy drives increasing numbers of consumers to use coupons in their bid to save money on everyday expenses, and with coupon web sites already reporting higher usage figures, research from NeuroFocus has examined consumer responses to coupons at the 'deep subconscious' level of the brain.
The study analysed consumers' brainwave activity and combined those findings with eye tracking and galvanic skin response measurements to find out how print and online coupons fared in three primary neurological measurements:
- Emotional engagement
- Memory retention
Online coupons were found to have significantly stronger potential appeal to consumers than print coupons. Across the board, the online version of a coupon outperformed the print version by a wide margin in almost every one of the neurometrics categories. Only in memory retention were the two coupon types close, and even there the online version still held a significant advantage.
For the attention, emotional engagement, and memory retention metrics, printed coupons achieved (on a scale of 0 - 10) 5.5, 5.6, and 7.4 respectively. Online coupons, however, achieved 7.1, 6.9, and 7.6 respectively.
For purchase intent, awareness, and novelty, printed coupons scored 7.2, 6.3, and 7.1 respectively, while online coupons scored 7.9, 7.6, and 8.0 respectively.
NeuroFocus combined these figures to develop an overall Neurological Effectiveness score, and the online coupon beat the print version by a large margin. For effectiveness, printed coupons scored 6.2 while online coupons scored 7.0.
The study also tested consumers' subconscious responses to two key coupon-related messaging concepts: "convenient" and "savings". The brainwaves and biometrics test results scored both print and online coupons evenly in the "convenient" category, but the "savings" category showed online coupons gaining a major advantage, providing marketers - especially of CPG brands - with new insight into a potentially powerful alternative to printed coupons.
However, the company then created a new 'branded element' and added it to both printed and online coupons to determine if it would have any effect on consumers' subconscious responses.When the new branded element was included the overall effectiveness score was almost completely reversed, and consumers preferred the printed coupon over the online version by almost the same margin as before. The branded element also produced the highest scores of all in several individual categories, including memory retention, purchase intent, and novelty.
According to NeuroFocus' chief science advisor, Dr Robert Knight, "The brain makes behaviour and, with these results, we now know the critical differences in subconscious responses across the categories that determine coupon behaviour, so marketers can make more fully-informed strategic decisions when it comes to couponing."