FMCG manufacturers encouraged to market online
By not embracing the full breadth of online marketing strategies, many fmcg (fast moving consumer goods) manufacturers are missing an opportunity not only to reach a wider audience but to gain measurable increases in retail sales, according to UK-based coupon provider Couponstar.
As fmcg companies increasingly seek to build up direct brand/consumer interactions and relationships, Couponstar argues that traditional above-the-line media campaigns are becoming less relevant.
Personalisation is needed But many are being held back, according to Couponstar's managing director, Jared Keen, because online technologies such as banner advertising and e-competitions make it difficult to quantify the real link between online activity and in-store behaviour.
"The only way these organisations will gain real value from online activity is to use a solution that is personalised, trackable, efficient, and that bridges the gap between online marketing and in-store spending behaviour. Consumer printable coupons are a technology that touches both of these areas at the right time," said Keen.
Slow adoption Compared to industries such as travel and financial services, the fmcg industry has been slow to adopt online marketing techniques, although consumer goods (which includes fmcg) has recently increased to 4.6% of online advertising's market share.
So, as the focus grows on customer relationship management and the pressure increases for direct consumer/brand contact, online marketing is not seen as a viable strategy, perhaps because it most easily provides a quantifiable return on investment in industries with low volumes and high sale values.
A viable solution According to Keen, if fmcg companies are to shift their significant budgets online they will need to be able to measure direct consumer response, not just to the online experience but also how that translates into offline sales. And that's where Keen recommends printable coupons as a solution, for example as part of an e-mail marketing campaign that also provides insight into consumer response rates.
With an electronic campaign that tracks not only e-mail open and click-through rates but also tracks individual e-coupons to the point of redemption in-store, fmcg brand managers are able to measure consumer response, interest levels, and redemption rates in real-time. According to Keen, many printable coupon-driven campaigns that have included "printable voucher" in the e-mail subject line have doubled or even tripled the click-through rates of other similar e-mail marketing campaigns.
Keen offers one other novel thought: There are now 'video coupons' that take advantage of high broadband internet penetration rates, providing brand managers with a chance to engage online consumers for several seconds at a time (using a short Flash advert) before allowing the consumer to print the coupon.
International coupon usage rates While online coupons still represent a small fraction of the 323 billion coupons created in the US each year, 87.9% of which are in Free Standing Inserts (according to the CMS 2006 Trends Report), Keen believes that these online coupons will soon represent up to 15% of all coupon redemptions nationwide.
In the UK, printable coupons are expected to attain a 15% share of the 4 billion coupons distributed annually by the end of 2007.