The first widespread coupon was offered in 1887 when Coca Cola created a slip for a complimentary Coke. It doesn’t take a marketing expert to know how that strategy worked out for them. By 1913, about one in three Americans had received a free Coke and Coca-Cola had given away 8.5 million free drinks. Now that may seem like a huge hit to the business, but Coca-Cola was positioned to take it and prepared to scale when it paid off.
It paid off big time. A mere eight years after the promotion initially launched, Coca-Cola found its way to market in every state. Much has changed since the days of five cent Coca-Colas, yet to this day coupons still reigns king. They may carry a reputation of popularity limited to thrifty moms and penny pinchers, but coupons are very much a driving force in commerce.
Consumers will always be attracted to a deal. The modern shopper researches prices online to compare options and be a savvy saver. 55% of shoppers digitally "clip" coupons. This increase in popularity has led to paperless coupon distribution, which has grown 373% over the last four years.
The term Millennial has become the primary buzzword to describe today’s young adults and characterize their habits. These shoppers, born between 1980 and 2000, are driving trends and merchant revenue online and in-stores. And despite the reputation of being too cool for pretty much everything, it turns out they definitely aren’t too cool for coupons.
A massive 71% of Millennials use coupons, earning a new reputation as a generation of dedicated, frequent savers. These discounts and coupons, both print and digital, drive much of their purchasing decisions. In fact, these bargain hunters are so interested in finding a great deal that 63% of Millennial internet users searched social networks for coupons in Q3 2015. Given these trends, small businesses have a huge opportunity to leverage coupons and discounts to bring in new customers and create a loyal following.
Social media is a great way to promote coupons and discounts. As much as 37% of shoppers receive promotional offers via social media. Since this target audience tends to interact with social media on a daily basis, it’s a great platform for businesses to capture their attention with a flashy promotion and gain followers. Ultimately, it gets consumers more interested in your business and through the front door.
If it’s so common for shoppers to hunt for coupons, and the redemption isn’t relegated to a niche audience, can you really lose? Maybe you won’t be the next Coca Cola, but you can bring in more customers and increase sales with coupons this year. Coupons are part of a larger business plan where merchants must understand that in order to make money, you have to drive traffic, and hopefully attract some new customers along the way. Once you’ve caught the savvy consumer’s eye with a coupon, the opportunities to upsell and create repeat business—leveraging customer relationship management—are endless.
Contributed by Lucy Gamble, Revel Systems Marketing Operations Analyst