Manufacturers used traditional media, mainly newspaper, to advertise a coupon.
Stores went one step further and on certain days of the week the value of the coupon would double.
Times have sure changed.
Even during a recession people can't be counted on to redeem their coupons.
Why would anyone ignore the chance to save money?
1. Time: Gone are the days of housewives who can take time away from their bridge game to clip coupons. Even if someone doesn't have a full time job outside of the home they are way too busy with other commitments to keep track of $1 off coupons.
2. Memory: Often, with so many details to track in every day life, it is near impossible to remember that which is not the most important. If an ad drives a consumer into a store and they have to remember to "say you heard it here" the chances are slim and none they will remember unless they heard the ad in the parking lot, and even then it's doubtful.
3. Pride: The generation of the Great Depression and the one that followed were programmed to save. Save money, save leftovers, save used tinfoil if they could. Even in the depths of a recession there are scores of people that are too concerned with how people will perceive them. The pride from saving hasn't become popular again.
4. Embarrassment: Too often the clerks have not received the message correctly from corporate and don't know about the promotion. If the consumer has taken time to clip the coupon and remembered to use it and takes pride in saving money only to have the employee at the register hold up the line to check with a manager, they won't be too inclined to do it again later.
Each of those can be overcome, but the biggest reason why coupons fail:
5. Relational v Transactional: Consumers make decisions to purchase based on relational or transactional rationales. In some cases, they will drive across town to save a dollar yet in others, they will spend five figures with a company without any comparison research because they believe in the company and are total brand advocates.
If you have done your job right, then you have been attracting relational consumers, not transactional ones.
You have been engaging consumers and they have a true emotional connection with your company.
Brand advocates don't need a coupon.
Members of the tribe don't look to save $1.
Your marketing success should be based on total sales performance. Not the redemption of just one coupon.
Which would you prefer? Redemption of 30 coupons or an increase in same store sales of 10%?
Focus on your relational customers and let your competition deal with the $1 off transactional ones.
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist