Inmar Inc. | March 1, 2012

In 2011, coupon redemption continued to increase, even while distribution and offer values were down. Consumers remain aggressive in acquiring and redeeming offers that are both appealing and accessible. They're offer conscious but they're not "cheap." You could say "frugal," but "smart" would be even more accurate; they're willing to pay what they have to in order to get what they really want. More and more it's about living a better life than they had pre-recession — it's "smart living."

So, in an era of shoppers pursuing smart living, the question becomes "How should brands and retailers best react?" Some have already answered with healthier offerings, lengthier and more replete warranties, greater product variety, etc. While this "smart marketing" has seen some positive results, it's promotions that represent the best reach toward these still budget-minded markets.

Going forward, successful marketers will need to more seamlessly integrate promotions into the lives of their shoppers and, at the same time, find ways to make promotions less of a short-term deal and more of an inherent part of the brand promise. While traditional couponing (free-standing inserts, direct mail, on-shelf coupons, etc.) has a role to play, digital promotions will prove critical because they "live" where larger numbers of consumers are starting to live -- online. They're immediately accessible, easily acquired and seamlessly redeemable, making them very attractive to the smart living consumer.

Successfully developing a digital promotion strategy that connects with these consumers will define smart marketing. Finding a partner who can assist with that plan will define the smart marketer.