Using paper coupons is soo hard – all that searching, cutting and remembering! Digital coupons aren’t much better – all that finding, sorting and clipping!
Surely, there most be an easier way?
According to a new study, there is.
Forrester Consulting surveyed shoppers, in compiling its new report, “Creating Loyalty With Millennials And Young Parents: How Automated Redemption And Card-Linked Offers Will Solve The Adoption Dilemma For Digital Coupons.”
And that mouthful of a title kind of gives away the report’s conclusions – consumers, particularly younger ones, want their coupons to be easier to redeem, by having them linked directly to their credit or debit cards.
Digital coupons as we currently know them, were meant to improve upon and eventually replace paper coupons. But digital coupons come with their own set of complications. “They still must be loaded, remembered, and actively retrieved in order to use,” the report reads.
So even in this technological age, old-fashioned paper coupon use continues to outpace digital coupon usage by far. Survey respondents said they still found paper coupons to be the easiest types to use. “Somehow,” the report states, “in the upside-down world of couponing, digital is actually more difficult than paper.”
So the solution may not be replacing paper coupons – but replacing digital coupons.
Many credit and debit card issuers allow you to link certain discounts directly to the cards that you use to pay – bypassing coupon scanning and loyalty card swiping altogether. So when you pay by debit or credit, discounts are applied to your account automatically.
But most of these card-linked offers are simple dollars- or percent-off deals for specific retailers. The Forrester report says there’s a place for card-linked offers at the grocery store, too.
Manufacturers might offer coupons that you can load right to your debit or credit card. Or retailers might link their digital coupon programs directly to payment cards, rather than to loyalty cards that you have to remember to bring to the store and swipe in order to have your coupons applied. “Forgetting coupons becomes a moot point when redemption is automatic and tied to the very card the consumer is using to make a purchase,” the report reads.
And making coupons easier to use is not only beneficial to shoppers, but to marketers. Coupons prompt purchases, after all – and forgotten coupons can lead to lost sales.
“The reality is, when coupons are digital and intuitive, they grow in usage and drive an increase in loyalty,” John Caron, the Chief Marketing Officer of Linkable Networks, said in a statement.
Oh, did we mention that Linkable Networks commissioned the Forrester report? And Linkable just happens to offer retailers and brands the very type of card-linked offers that the report recommends they adopt.
So maybe the report’s conclusions aren’t wholly objective. But for retailers, marketers and shoppers who continue to cling to paper coupons simply because there’s still no better option, at least someone is proposing an alternative.
“Today’s consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to having access to what they want, when and where they want it,” the report concludes. “Coupons, promotional offers, and customer loyalty programs are no exception.”
It’s almost enough to make some longtime couponers fear for the future – younger shoppers are so into simplicity and immediate gratification, that they can’t even be bothered to put in the work it takes to coupon?
But consider the alternative – if that kind of thinking causes coupon use to decline in subsequent generations, coupons as we know them may ultimately fade away altogether.
And that’s a future that no couponer wants to contemplate.
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