John Ross | May 29, 2014

If you look at Inmar's coupon trends report for Q1 2014 or the summary of findings from the Inmar 2014 Shopper Behavior Study — both of which are included in this newsletter— there's one takeaway that is impossible to miss. Shoppers want convenience. They have moved from a mindset of effort to one of expectation and that expectation is for a personalized saving and shopping experience that is both faster and "smarter." They are looking to retailers and brands to make it easy for them to save money when they shop.

For many shoppers that convenience is provided via Free Standing Inserts (FSIs). Delivered to the shopper's door, acquisition typically takes place at the kitchen table and requires only a pair of scissors and maybe a second cup of coffee. The result? FSIs represent, every quarter, better than 40 percent of all coupons redeemed. (For Q1 2014, FSIs accounted for 44.4 percent of all redeemed coupons.) With marketers distributing a relatively equitable mix of food and non-food offers, employing gracious redemption periods and bringing up offer values, using FSIs is a promotion strategy that continues to enable broad reach while capturing large numbers of impressions.

As for targeting the delivery of FSIs, the options are, well, limited. Personalization? It's just not there. Yes, there are optimization strategies for better matching offers to markets, sharpening spend and improving distribution (and Inmar helps clients do all of this every day) but personalizing offers isn't part of the package. And, for promotions to move to the next level, it must be. Enter digital promotions.

Shoppers, as a result of their experiences with online retailers, have become accustomed to marketers recognizing them and facilitating every aspect of their shopping experience. Now, they're looking for that same recognition and facilitation from brick and mortar marketers. As an example, the Shopper Behavior Study found that 70 percent of shoppers want coupons emailed to them for products they normally buy. At the same time, 61 percent of shoppers (more than in 2012) can't find coupons for the products they want to buy. That has to change. And, with targeted digital promotions it's going to — sooner rather than later.

While shoppers' increasing use of technology throughout the path to purchase is bringing with it greater expectations of timely engagement, it is also providing a greater opportunity for properly equipped marketers to deliver content that is relevant and persuasive. Determining shoppers' preferred marketing channels is the first step toward a solution and that's been accomplished. Now, it's just a matter of matching offers with shoppers and delivering that content with the frequency that makes sense for both shoppers and trading partners. It's about to happen. Stay tuned.

I would welcome your thoughts on the viability and value of targeting shoppers with specific offers. I invite you to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below.