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Couponing: Brand Positive?
By: Janet Kalandranis
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It’s a familiar scenario: a crumpled piece of paper in the back of a wallet used to save five cents. Is it worth it? Isn’t the world past paper, past coupons, and past a silly five-cent discount? Successful brands should have enough brand engagement to never have that discount conversation in a single marketing meeting. Or maybe couponing is saved for certain industries, certain products, and certain life stages of brands. With so many questions, there must be a brand guide on how to discount and when to discount for success.

Brands that coupon successfully have determined an algorithm to tell what works with customers without hindering the brand image. The number one rule: personalization. Don’t give the diaper coupon to a family without young children, and certainly don’t send the lactose intolerant person a deal on milk. On one hand, this seems realistic; on the other, shouldn’t customers only redeem coupons that are relevant to them and ignore the rest? Those brands that over-coupon in an irrelevant fashion are unsuccessful. Customers want brands to know them, understand them, and provide them coupons that work in their world. If not, a brand’s coupons say much more to the consumer and can ultimately dilute the brand message.

Next up: make it easy. With a world full of the best technology, a little piece of paper with a five-cent discount seems irrelevant. Customers want mobile coupons or even cards that hold their discounts so that ease of use is top of mind. Brands should take on the burden of figuring out the technology or a seamless system so that the customer’s biggest concern is when they should redeem the coupon. That’s a brand the customer will engage with time and time again.

And don’t think that the era of couponing is declining. Brands offered $470 billion worth of CPG coupons last year. The strategy has merely shifted so that brands are thinking and rethinking couponing. It’s not only about that discount anymore, but what increases brand engagement, what creates incrementality, and ultimately what delivers brand success.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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