Villing & Company

Have We Got a Deal for You: Couponing, Mobile Marketing & More

Full disclosure. I started this article with the hypothetical notion that Groupon-style deals were losing their appeal. How else do you account for the fact that the daily deals, at least the ones in my inbox, have quickly morphed from highly motivating offers at good restaurants to discounts for services like grout cleaning and scuba lessons? And clearly the proliferation of such sites with no discernible differentiation means the daily deal model is unsustainable.

But as ESPN's Lee Corso so famously says, "Not so fast, my friend." Along the way, I discovered some very interesting statistics. Here are two:

  1. U.S. consumer spending on deals will grow from $873 million in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2015. That's a 36.7% annual growth rate!
  2. 29 percent of smartphone users are open to scanning mobile tags to get a coupon.

Now that I think about it, this isn't all that surprising. We've always known that couponing proliferates in tough economic times. It's good for the goose, the consumer, because it helps stretch dollars. And it's good for many ganders, marketers, because it promotes trial and "gooses" sales.

That being said, couponing and daily deals are not a panacea for all marketers. Discounting and deal-making can sometimes launch a death spiral from which full recovery is next to impossible to achieve. Pizza chains and minor league sports are cases in point. Discounting is so prevalent that the consumer is often unwilling to pay full price for their offerings.

Rather, deals should be used strategically. If creating trial is an important objective, discounting is a great tool to overcome inertia, lack of awareness or price resistance. To continue our fowl metaphor, the marketer better have his ducks in a row when the deal hits. If unprepared for the upswing in customers, the marketer may risk delivering a negative experience through poor service or inadequate product. Just as a positive experience can lead to future sales and brand engagement, a negative experience can seriously diminish the opportunities for future business.

So the obvious conclusion is that discounting is here to stay. Tough times accelerate the usage, but I suspect that wanting to get a great deal will always be part of the human DNA. What is changing is the delivery of the deal. Technology is driving that. The delivery du jour is the Groupon-style daily deal. But mobile marketing is going to play an increasingly big role. Just today I read about a new mobile app call iCircular that is being tested by Associated Press and many major newspaper companies. Think of it as the Sunday FSI (free-standing insert) on a mobile platform.

And that brings me to my final point – and the topic for my next blog post. Mobile marketing is the next frontier. By 2014, more people will be accessing the Internet through their mobile devices than will be using their desktop computer.

Stay tuned.

Filed Under: advertising

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