Published on: October 22, 2008Dow Jones has a story about the gradual shift toward electronic, paperless coupons, which, though not yet widespread, seem to be on the cusp of broader acceptance. “This year,” Dow Jones writes, “more programs are being been tested and introduced, causing some in the industry to suspect that 2009 will be a big year for the technologies.”
According to the story, “Dwindling ranks of newspaper subscribers are already seeking out deals online. But instead of printing them out, coupons that are registered on a shopper's grocery loyalty card waste less paper and help companies cut down on coupon fraud. The convenience quotient is upped when shoppers can find a coupon on their cell phone while shopping in the aisles. Often, the only paper you'll use is a print out of the coupons you've selected … Both new delivery methods may be more effective with younger shoppers, those in the industry say. The younger the consumer, the more likely they want a paperless option, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by ICOM Information & Communications.”
- KC's View:
- The generational point is a good one, and could be a marker for the acceptance level for paperless/electronic coupons. And I tend to think that programs in which people will print out electronic coupons at home are almost obsolete already … especially when viewed from the point of view of a younger generation that has no use for paper.
And it certainly is true that the economic doldrums of the moment are working in favor of coupon usage … though whether we’re going to start seeing enormous jumps in coupon usage is questionable at best. I tend to think that companies that stress low prices without coupons – think Aldi, Save-A-Lot, Costco, Walmart – will do better than those that require people to bring coupons with them.
The key to making the shift to paperless coupons work, I maintain, is a greater level of targeting than currently is being used. Without significant targeting, most coupons will simply be seen as clutter.
In the end, without targeting, it won’t matter whether a coupon is paper or electronic. A lot of us simply throw out those useless FSIs that show up in the papers each Sunday, and we’ll also file useless electronic coupons in the trash bins on our computers.
Junk is junk.