Consumers value traditional marketing, accept new channels
Digital channels have heralded a revolution in retail merchandising and marketing. Social networks, email and company websites have changed to ways in which business engage consumers and preserve loyalty.
In fact, as consumers' lives become more embedded in digital technologies such as smartphones, tablet computers and laptops, traditional tactics of outreach are falling to the side.
Print still helpful, but digital catching up
A recent survey of 23,000 shoppers from Brick Meets Click illustrates the growing preference for online marketing communications. For example, while more than 80 percent of find printed supermarket circulars helpful, acceptance of digital coupons was not far behind - 20 percent of shoppers said Facebook and text messages were helpful.
Retail websites proved to be one of the most popular digital options, with 90 percent of shoppers admitting that they visited their preferred retail websites at least once per month. Moreover, 64 percent said they visited between one and six times per month.
"The frequency of site visits by digitally engaged shoppers indicates a lot of activity can be generated provided that useful content is available," the report said. Companies may find it helpful to mine customer data to determine which content is best for their websites and even social networks.
Coupon websites catch on
The rapid growth of online coupon website Groupon may also prove a boon for businesses. The survey reported that in addition to visiting retailer websites, they also search online coupon providers and compare prices with other retailers.
Online coupon providers such as Groupon, Living Social and Coupon Chief work with businesses to give consumers daily deals - limited time offers which give consumers a service or discount.
However, while online coupon websites can help retailers reach new consumers across a wide array of demographics, they also come with a few challenges.
Many small businesses have noted that coupon users can often turn out to be one-time customers, rather than repeat patrons. Additionally, other local companies have found themselves unprepared for the demand online coupons can create for their services.
What matters most for retailers is to research and find out which channels work best, not only for their business model but also for their customers. Older demographics may prefer a more traditional approach, while young customers could highly value smartphone communications.
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