Finding Digital Success with a Consumer-First Strategy           

By Marc Mathies

With demands of an increasingly mobile and extremely personalized world in full effect, brands and marketers are tasked with meeting these expectations head-on with a consumer-first approach. Unwavering, however, in this digital era, and to marketers’ benefit, is the consumer desire for coupons.

A 2017 Purse String Survey found that 53 percent of consumers spend two or more hours per week looking for coupons, deals and savings codes. This increases with millennials — 62 percent spend two or more hours per week looking for coupons and one in four millennial moms spend more than four hours per week doing the same. Even more significant is that 90 percent reported they actively look for grocery coupons.

But a successful digital coupon strategy must go beyond just making the offers available. Consumers expect highly-personalized, on-demand experiences, and digital coupons are no exception — whether those offers are available on a retailer’s website, via email sign-up or in a mobile app.

To meet consumers’ expanding expectations, retailers’ priority must be a focus on the needs of the consumer, which will ultimately lead to increased brand loyalty and lifetime value. To implement an effective consumer-first digital coupon strategy, brands and marketers should focus on three key areas:

1. Drive personalization through data
Personalization and first-party data are vital to creating a consumer-first digital coupon strategy. Through the use of historical consumer data, current behaviors and recent purchases, brands and retailers can assess what worked and what didn’t to best personalize offers and influence a consumer’s future purchasing decisions. By understanding how their customers are shopping and what’s moving them down the path of purchase, retailers can deliver powerful, relevant brand messaging and digital coupons to enhance the shopping experience.

2. Keep coupon offers simple and unique
According to the 2018 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report, 94 percent of consumers reported using coupons. While the market demand is there, brands and retailers need to ensure they provide consumers with a frictionless experience  to retain brand loyalty. In today’s on-demand world, consumers expect to open a brand or retailer’s app and quickly pull up a coupon that can be scanned at checkout. This places the onus on the coupon provider to makes sure a personalized offer was pushed to their consumer at the right time, through the right channel. Creating this seamless experience is what will help a brand or retailer retain consumers and increase their lifetime value.

3. Utilize technology for fraud prevention
This frictionless experience can be a double-edged sword. While the digital realm has opened up great opportunities for personalization, it is increasingly important for brands and retailers to put fraud prevention tactics in place. With 61 percent of all shoppers  (and 87 percent of parents) using their smartphone or mobile device to save on their purchases, this opens up the potential for fraud, as consumers can take screenshots of coupons or have their phone scanned multiple times.

Brands and retailers need to be vigilant against the potential for fraud and constantly work to combat it to manage coupon redemption budgets. Even with a consumer-first coupon strategy that focuses on a seamless experience, balance is important to keep the platform secure. A focus on fraud ahead of digital coupon implementation enables brands to make adjustments and corrections before going to the market.

Personalized coupons should come with a desirable redemption ease, offering tangible value and convenience at the right time and place. Additionally, brands and retailers need to keep their platforms secure, so they aren’t losing money at the expense of the consumer experience. Keeping these consumer-first best practices in mind, brands and retailers will be on the right path to digital coupon strategy success.

Marc Mathies is Executive Director of Digital Coupon Product at Valassis Digital.

                                               Early May 2018