Devora Rogers | April 29, 2013

The annual Association of Coupon Professionals conference (held this year in New Orleans) is a veritable who's who of the promotion industry. From old school retail veterans to rising digital stars, all attendees have been treated to an agenda covering promotion trends, fraud mitigation and the growth of digital with presentations and case studies from the likes of Valassis, dunnhumby, Kantar Media and, of course, Inmar.

Yesterday I presented a recap of our 2012 Trends as well as highlights from our new 2013 shopper study — including a discussion around trends from the "new couponer" demographic. This group is increasingly entitled, enabled, and engaged--and with smartphone penetration to hit 80 percent by 2015, we expect this demo only to grow! We also gave an update on Q1 Distribution and Redemption to clients in attendance (hot off the press!) in which we revealed a slight increase in Distribution (~2%), but for Redemption a decline of about 6 percent (compared to Q1 2012) -- in line with an improved economic climate. Face values and redemption periods continued to decline and requirements increased slightly; three tactics we believe may be impacting redemption rates.

With shoppers indicating sustained interest in coupons (our 2013 study revealed shoppers to be more excited about offers than ever) and a tightening of levers by manufacturers, a key question we are discussing with our clients and attendees here in New Orleans is how brand and retailers should behave to provide improved experiences for shoppers. We all agree there has been a disconnect between what shoppers want and the promotion industry has been able to deliver. However, what was evident at ACP (and gratifying to see occurring) is that we have finally reached a tipping point. While paper coupons continue to dominate, paperless digital sources and scale are expanding at a remarkable rate. With the number of retail rooftops accepting digital coupons set to double in 2013, there will be an opportunity to distribute digital offers at an unprecedented pace. With retailers like Publix, Weis, Tops and DeCA joining digitally-enabled retailers like Safeway, Kroger and Harris Teeter, and digitally-savvy brands like Coca-Cola and P&G leading the way, I am proud to see barriers falling and an improving shopper experience.

At a panel featuring executives from Inmar, Catalina and Zavers, participants discussed the infrastructure now in place to deliver on the promise of digital, but agreed that to continue building on recent success, we need to offer brand and retailers proven metrics around the impact offers have on basket size, engagement, and loyalty. This shift will encourage new retailers to join the party and brands to distribute improved offers. And in turn this will enable us to increase velocity in our analytics efforts to provide the most relevant possible offers to shoppers.

So, as they say here in the Big Easy, Laissez les bons temps rouler!