Reinventing Promotion Delivery

By: Donna Schelby, General Manager FSI and In-store, Valassis
Published Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016

Reinventing Promotion Delivery

My first day on the job in August of 1995 I was given a trade magazine to read that was passed around from team member to team member. The feature story was about the Free Standing Insert (FSI) and how within the next 10 years it would cease to exist. Flash forward to 2013 when there was an intense client interest in an “E-FSI” (Electronic Free Standing Insert) providing the same scale, efficiency, retailer activation, trial, and volume lift as the print version. Today, for several reasons the tone has changed yet again.

The first reason is that of scale. The FSI provides an opportunity to support multiple retailers at once with a ubiquitous offer which consumers can use at almost any retail location. A national, efficient delivery of this nature which provides coverage to 63 million households at less than 1 cent per household is difficult to duplicate. The print environment allows tremendous reach, creating scale yet to be replicated digitally. A national FSI market list can provide coverage to any retailer of consumer packaged goods interest, enabling retail activation in a manner most relevant to the individual consumer.

The second reason is that wily millennial. The one thing we know as an absolute, is that millennials do not want, nor do they use, paper coupons – right? This one thing we were sure was true, is turning out to not be true. In fact, according to the 2016 Coupon Intelligence Report,* when asked if they were using paper coupons, 85 percent of millennials stated they get them from the mail (versus 87 percent of all consumers) and 82 percent said they got them from the newspaper coupon book (this matches the overall average and exceeds that of boomers at 79 percent.) Apparently, as millennials age, get married, and have children, their habits regarding shopping and coupon usage change and print becomes a more relevant part of their shopping experience.

So, if scale is a challenge digitally, and the millennial consumer has turned us all topsy-turvy as we try to understand what they actually want, how do we rethink promotion engagement in this new world? The answer lies in the moderate truths we do know versus the extremes that were expected to play out. It comes down to three basic concepts:

#1: Relevance
This concept is not new, but what makes it challenging is that relevance must occur in both the print AND digital environments. That’s right, millennials have shown us print is still relevant and generation Xers have been using it all along – but the use of it will need to change. Getting smarter with delivery to ensure content mirrors household interest, drives relevance and engagement, versus force-feeding consumers what advertisers want them to see. This print evolution combined with the inherent, relevant capabilities of digital create a more fluid experience for the consumer.

#2: Alternatives
Advertisers have been focused on media usage, attribution and which media ultimately drives the consumer path to purchase. Let’s face it – no single media will be the silver bullet that ensures each consumer is receiving advertising the way she wants to receive it. Why? There is no single media that a consumer uses whether millennial or not.  Allowing consumers to access and use content an advertiser makes available in both the print and digital environment will result in the best outcome. This is especially true when all media sources are focused on relevance to the consumer.

#3: Shopping Habits
The consumer does not shop the way she did even two years ago. She is using ecommerce along with brick and mortar options to serve her individual purposes. To support her shopping habits, advertisers must enable her to engage in whichever promotional environment she chooses. This approach will ultimately round out the evolution of consumer activation.

The reinvention of promotion delivery will truly be an intelligent media environment.  Ensuring your shopper has access to your activation tools in a ubiquitous way, in the format she prefers, will create the platform for the next generation of activation. This will require us all to stop looking at print and digital as independent entities, and consider them as tools that work together to offer the best options to the shopper in a unified way.

* 2016 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report, Ipsos