Thursday, September 10, 2009

'Coupon Enthusiasts' Drive Up Redemption Rates

Sept 4, 2009

Coupon enthusiasts are the driving force behind exploding redemption rates, according to new findings from Homescan, a service of the Nielsen Company.

Eighty-one percent of the units purchased using manufacturer coupons came from just 19 percent of U.S. households during the twenty-six week period ended June 27, 2009.

The most avid users, called “coupon enthusiasts,” are households that purchased 104 or more items using manufacturers’ coupons. The 10 percent of shoppers that fall into this category accounted for 62 percent of manufacturers’ coupon units. They also accounted for 16 percent of total unit sales making them a very attractive and important consumer target.

Still, the recession is driving heavier coupon usage among all types of consumers as many lighter users have become heavier users. After three quarters of declines in 2008, coupon redemptions spiked 10 percent in Q4 2008, per Inmar. This was followed by a 17 percent increase in Q1 2009 and a 33 percent surge in Q2. This tally includes FSI’s, on-pack offers and Internet coupons but excludes retailer coupons.

Inmar also reported that more and more consumers are using coupons for both food and non-food items. In Q4 2008 non-food redemptions were -3 percent. However, in the second quarter of this year redemptions for non-food items were up 46 percent. Food coupon redemptions were +21 percent in Q4 2008 and increased 27 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

“Without question, coupon usage is undergoing a renaissance,” said Nielsen’s Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer and shopping insights. “More consumers are looking for value and lower prices as retailers and manufacturers are distributing more coupons and making it easier for consumers to leverage technology to access coupons they want with less effort.” Overall, 1.6 billion coupons were redeemed in the first half of 2009.

“These findings from Nielsen suggest that the increased coupon usage we’ve seen this year not only helped consumers stretch their budgets but also provided meaningful sales impact to manufacturers and retailers,” said Inmar’s Matthew Tilley, director of marketing. “Coupons have always been an effective way to encourage trial and repeat purchase and are proving to be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary economic environment.” 

Finally, the old couponing is regaining back its popularity. When the going gets tough, consumers will grab any chance to save including if they need to put efforts to do so like collecting coupons. On the other side, producers also like coupons to drive the trial of their products as well as to lock the next purchase potential by giving away generously. One thing often forgotten is tracking the impact of each coupon initiative to learn how to make it more effective next time.

SEO: The most abused word in the tech world today

BY VJ Misra 
Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Yes, I said it! Search Engine Optimization or "SEO" for short is the most abused tech jargon today. A while back it was Web 2.0 and Consultant. Everyone and their brother was an IT consultant or a Web 2.0 expert. A couple years prior to that were the "Y2K experts" and specialists who cashed in at the right time.

Fixing the Y2K or the millennium bug (for those who remember) was a huge cash cow for IT consulting companies. Year 2000 Computing Crisis started off with the discovery of a two digit year in computer systems. Had the computer programmers initially programmed systems with a four digit year (19xx) we wouldn’t have a problem. But back then due to memory, space and resource constraints, computer programmers abbreviated the four digit year (1999) to two digits (99). The problem came when in the year 2000 the dates would move from 99 back to 00.

Millions, perhaps billions of dollars, were spent to fix the Y2K bug worldwide. Almost all industry sectors were hit. Among them the most prominent being banks & financial institutions, government, utility and healthcare. Smart IT companies and "Y2K consultants" cashed in on the spending spree.

History is repeating itself again. SEO has taken over Y2K now. "SEO Guru" is someone who is conning his way to happily cash in your bank roll. Okay, so before all SEOs get up in arms, and start writing hate mails, let me clarify: I am not talking about the genuine folks who would like to help tech-challenged clients for little or no money. But for people who are slightly above average in technical skills, this is a DIY. Optimizing a website for Google or other crawlers or bots for effective search indexing can be done relatively painlessly. The caveat here is that the person should be relatively tech savvy.

Most everyone thinks they are cool and knowledgeable enough to be SEO experts. Little do people know how easy it actually is to optimize your website for search engines? But then again, not everyone is a technology expert. For fear of backlash, I will not exactly spell out here how to optimize your website, but it is fairly easy.

On a similar note, branding and PR are two other things where people seem to be experts. I talked to a few "experts" and quickly realized they were clueless. They did not know the basic difference between Advertising and PR. Go figure!

Advertising is NOT PR and Public Relations is definitely not Advertising. Similarly, Branding is not Positioning and vice versa. I will let you intelligent folks discover it to your satisfaction using your favorite browsers and search engines.
Go out and enlighten yourself...and please stop getting duped.

This stright-talk should wake up the crowd from SEO-euphoria. SEO has been one of the Web 2.0 buzzwords these days which has been hot topic in marketing & technology conferences. In retrospect, I think what's important is to have clear objective & strategy in our digital initiatives from the first place. Given the clarity, all those things become the tools to reach the intended audience for the brands.

I was thinking that in near future, there will be new definition of Digital SOV, which is the first search page of given keywords in Google, Yahoo or Bing - and Nielsen will start selling the tracking data on it.