Long before “Throwback Thursday” existed on social media, researchers had documented nostalgia’s ability to elicit emotion and increase advertising recall, however, what’s making it particularly resonant is the context of today’s era. In our increasingly stressed-out, tech-enveloped world, consumers are looking to enjoy a mental escape into rose-colored memories. Seeking a time of greater simplicity, happiness and peace of mind than the present, they’re comforted and reassured by images and iconography from the past.

Nostalgia alone, however, while powerful, isn’t enough to break through with today’s consumers. One way to break through is to connect the past to relevant aspects of your brand’s story – there’s no quicker way to the consumer’s heart than through the power of narrative. Another way to break through is personal nostalgic appeal. Research recognizes two distinct types of nostalgia: the personal and the vicarious. Vicarious nostalgia is the kind a viewer didn’t actually live through, but finds romantic nonetheless (e.g., when a Millennial sees imagery of the Woodstock era), whereas personal nostalgia showcases memes, icons and products from an era that the viewer did live through. The latter is the better route to make a visceral connection that motivates action. This is perhaps no more true than with Millennials, many of whom came of age during the high-flying ’90s and settled into young adulthood during the post-9/11, Great Recession era. And it’s likely the reason why brands as varied as Buzzfeed, Old Navy, Calvin Klein and Internet Explorer (among others) are successfully using ’90s-era nostalgia in their communication and marketing.


Mobile couponing remains a platform that is as attractive as it is problematic. On the bright side, as consumer sentiment suggests, m-coupons hold great potential to help brands enhance marketing and deepen relationships. The dark cloud hanging over the platform, however, is the in-store redemption experience – a mess that is triggering frustration on both sides of the cash register. The readiness of retailers to accept the smartphone pushed in their face with a discount offer is uneven at best. Ready or not, the mobile coupons themselves are also a pain point for retailers as they are often flawed from the beginning and poorly formatted for easy checkout redemption. Additionally, they are also highly inconsistent – many of the shopper and couponing apps are aggregating offers they find online in all manner of sizes and formats. It is tough enough for retailers to read the fine print on a paper coupon to discover whether it really applies in a given case – and on a phone, it is nearly impossible.

Cumbersome and time consuming, m-coupon redemption is impeding the swift and speedy checkout experience that retailers strive to maintain and consumers have come to expect. As a result, m-coupons are getting a bad rap and turning off all involved at the point of sale, including those impatiently waiting next in line. From more standard and responsive coupon designs that stop using print as the template to consistent in-store policies for handling m-coupons, there is great room for improvement from inception to redemption.

Sources: Solving The Empowered Mobile Shopper. (January 22, 2015). Mobile Insider.
Mobile Moves in on Grocery Shopping. (January 22, 2015). MCommerce Daily.


As retail and e-commerce executives take a collective breath and look back on 2014, they will no doubt be contemplating how in the coming year to best appeal to consumers who have turned mobile devices into the performance-enhancing drug of the couponing game. However, the benefit is more than mutual as mobile coupons are a key driving force behind a brand’s mobile marketing success. In fact, in a 2014 Luth Research survey of U.S. smartphone and tablet users – 80% said coupons and deals were the number one reason they subscribed to a brand’s e-mail program. The coupon/deal pair was also rated number one when participants were asked why they opted in to receive text messages (77%), push notifications from brand apps (52%) or followed brands via mobile social media (63%). Coupons and deals draw consumers to mobile ads as well – one-third cited a deal or coupon as the main driver for motivating them to interact with mobile advertising.
Beyond engagement, with regard to translation into sales, mobile coupons (m-coupons) are indeed driving consumer purchase and propelling m-commerce. The Luth Research study found 73% of respondents made a purchase because of the coupon/deal offered in the mobile e-mail and nearly half of those who bought did so on their mobile device.
Source: Report: Mobile Commerce Deep Dive. (2014). e-Marketer.



When asked what type of promotion would be most likely to influence their purchase decision, digital coupons ranked number one with consumers. In fact, 59% of consumers would be influenced by a digital coupon as compared to a sales promotion, which would only influence 28% of consumers. Receiving a deal or savings opportunity via a digital coupon can be the tipping point for a consumer to click “buy” online or to walk into a store and make the purchase in person. In fact, nearly 80% of consumers agree that digital coupons “close the deal” for them when they are undecided on a purchase.
Digital coupons also help create more of a sense of urgency, rather than stacking up in the same old familiar pile. Once a consumer receives a digital coupon, most are redeemed within several days and many immediately. In fact, nine in 10 desktop, smartphone and tablet users redeem a digital coupon within days and nearly 30% of consumers used a digital coupon immediately upon receiving the offer.

The digital coupon impact goes beyond the transaction and positively affects brand and loyalty. Nearly seven in 10 consumers strongly believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a retailer’s brand, and 68% also state that coupons generate loyalty. In addition to being loyal, customers are also very open to trying a new brand when receiving a digital coupon on a smartphone. Nearly half of consumers are likely to try a new brand when receiving a coupon on their smartphone while shopping in-store, and 36% are likely to switch brands.

Source: Report: The State of Digital Coupons. (2014). Forrester Research.


The print coupon is not only a curious survivor of the digital revolution; it’s also thriving in it. The fact is, according to distribution and redemption rates, print still rules the coupon universe. Especially for CPG companies. In just the first half of last year, CPGs distributed 171 billion coupons – 92.5% of which were print FSIs. As a whole, FSIs account for 89% of coupon distribution, and despite a small decline in redemption, still encompass 41% of all coupon redemptions. However, with shoppers using an average of 5.8 coupon methods regularly, brands need to continue to diversify their distribution tactics. Especially considering that while consumers are still wed to their print coupons, the marriage might be in trouble, as 42% of consumers wish that all coupons were digital.

Source: Report: 2014 Coupon Trends Report. (2014). Inmar.



From print to digital, coupons are alive and well, and remain a part of the American shopping culture. They are a source of pride, according to nearly half of consumers, and a symbol of savvy shopping skills. More than 80% of consumers use coupons and 43% say they’re using them more often. One reason for the increase is the mere proliferation of more and more coupons, both online and in ads/circulars. The key driver, however, is the ease with which they are able to find the right coupon at the right time. Nearly six in 10 report that they are now finding more coupons for the specific products they want to purchase when they need them. Interestingly, the majority of consumers reported that they would use coupons more frequently but find that many tend to expire before they have a chance to use them.

So what resonates with these coupon enthusiasts? Surprisingly, they aren’t seeking huge discounts. Nearly half consider discounts of 25% or less to be a “good deal.” In fact, more than one in four believes that 1% to 24% represents a good deal. They are most interested in coupons that offer a specific dollar amount off of their purchase (31%) and are least interested in coupons that offer free shipping (9%).

Source: Report: 2014 Coupon Trends Report. (2014). Inmar.


According to Media Post, roughly three in 10 U.S. adults are heavy QSR category users (visited a fast food restaurant 12+ times in the past 30 days) – and these heavy category users, fast food’s most important customers, say they want to live and eat healthy. They are a part of the movement toward conscious eating and over 54% check ingredients and nutritional information at retail and menu items at restaurants (44%), and more than three-quarters believe they eat right.

To be a part of this movement, QSRs need to have a voice and demonstrate that they are on board. So how can QSR marketers help get the healthy word out? Social media might be a great place to start. According to Media Post’s data, heavy QSR patrons are at least 20% more likely than typical adults to say social media is very important to them for tasks like getting discounts and learning about products. QSRs can easily integrate health and nutrition in social media plans in several different ways, such as launching “healthy meal-deals” based on co-creation and consumer feedback. Or creating games that award points when players order healthy items, redeemable for coupons or player-only offers.

Source: QSRs And Healthy Eating (May 22, 2014). MediaPost.


The infusion of screens into our lives is spurring fear and resentment, and some fretting about what’s been lost in the embrace of digital devices. Our love affair with mobile devices is turning into a love-hate relationship. People are becoming more aware of how much time they spend – in meetings, on the street, at meals, during family time, etc. – with their heads down, immersed in mobile devices. So more of us will make an effort to keep our heads up, be better attuned to people and the environment, and ask others to do the same. Brands can enable or encourage this mindful approach, as Buick did with its #InTheMoment campaign – a campaign that encourages consumers to take a pledge to spend less time on their phone and more time #InTheMoment. KFC created a Phonestack app that rewards players for leaving the stack undisturbed. In Brazil, an ad agency created the Offline Glass: a beer glass with a notch the size of an iPhone at the bottom. The drinker’s iPhone must remain on the bar in order for the glass to balance. Brands have plenty of opportunity to encourage and foster periods of focused interaction, showing people what they’re missing when they are absorbed in their devices.

Source: 10 Mobile trends for 2014 and beyond (May 2014). JWT.


Faced with an increasingly controlled and constrained marketplace, many consumers are seeking opportunities to experience unplanned, surprising or serendipitous moments. The recent trend of consumers seeking serendipity in both their online and offline lives is intensifying—and it’s only set to grow in the coming years as sensors replace screens and occasions increasingly become the area for marketers to focus upon and own. Opportunities to connect with consumers will only expand in these “discovery spaces.” Brands that innovate and blaze a trail of new, unplanned and sometimes surprising experiences will be set for success in the years ahead.

Two brands doing just that are Panera Bread and Heineken. Panera Bread promises users of its loyalty card that it will “…do our best to reward you with surprises based on what you love.” The restaurant periodically provides its customers with free food and drinks based on their prior purchasing behavior. Heineken recently offered the ultimate serendipitous experience by giving travelers at JFK airport the chance to play “departure roulette.” Participants who played committed to traveling to an exotic location –without knowing where they were going in advance.

Source: The Rise of Serendipity. (December 2013). The Futures Company.



Consumers are pressed for time and looking for shorter, bite-sized experiences. Smaller and shorter versions of products make them more affordable and more appealing. Media and tech are major growth drivers of this trend. By enabling consumers to get just what they need, bite-sized is extending to all areas of life. In media, we have Twitter and on-demand video. In food, we have tapas and small, bite-sized snacks and in travel, we have mini excursions and flexible hotel stays.

Novelty, change and experience are driving the consumer’s desire for bite-sized. Time-starved consumers crave experimental, temporary, ephemeral experiences. Cramming more into a shorter time frame is increasingly expected. Streamlined, mini varieties, with low to no learning curve, appeal to consumers pressed for time. Brands who can make light, on-demand, modular or hyper-personalized versions will find new ways to reach consumers. From last-minute travel to learning new skills, there are openings among consumers who are curious, but would not otherwise put in their time or effort.

Source: Consumer Trend: “Bite-Sized” Experiences. (December 2013). CMI Online.

%d bloggers like this: