The move to trying to save more money online should come as no surprise to anyone for all the obvious reasons. With those reasons being so obvious we won’t belabor the point here (btw, for those wondering, the economy still kinda sucks). What is happening though, is the shift from the printed coupon to the online coupon is very real and is creating the same commotion in the heated online v. offline world as the news debate is. After all, many papers are clinging to the fact that their Sunday circulations remain OK because of the perceived savings offered by the coupons.
NCH Marketing Services, a subsidiary of Valassis Communications is reporting an increase of 30% use in traditional coupons with an additional $600 million in savings by consumers. Unfortunately, we often measure just how hot an industry is by how many lawsuits it generates.
This past summer, Valassis won a $300 million verdict against News America Marketing (NAM), a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp. It accused the coupon powerhouse of trying to monopolize supermarket advertising.
In July, following the verdict in Michigan’s Wayne County Circuit Court, NAM president Chris Mixson said the decision “rewards a company that turned to litigation as its business strategy rather than compete.” He said evidence barred by the court would have made a case that Valassis tried “to induce collusion when it announced its new pricing policy in a public investor call.”
So as with most things, the offline world is busy navel-gazing in court while the online business is preparing to move in take control.
While those two titans of paper coupons duke it out, another battleground is emerging. Although a study by Experian Marketing Services, a global information services company, assessed that 70% of households still clip coupons from newspapers, beleaguered print media companies are starting to lose their once tight grip on the market to online competitors.
NCH says online coupon distribution rose 41% during the first 9 months of 2009 and RedPlum.com saw coupon prints from the site jump 51% so far this year. At year-end 2008, online coupons represented 4.8% of all coupons redeemed in the U.S., compared to 6.3% by mid-year 2009.
I am still amazed at how slow and plodding the offline world is in most sectors when it comes to seeing the competitive threat that online services are. Hey, all of you folks in the printed coupon business here’s your wake up call. Google purchased AdMob to get into this business. And to prove they are serious
Google has begun issuing 100,000 window stickers to businesses in more than 9,000 cities and towns. Each window decal has a unique bar code that can be scanned with the camera feature of most mobile devices. The code will then immediately load the browser with information about the business and allow access to related coupons and offers.
You don’t need a printed coupon for that to work.