The recent Association of Coupon Processors meeting was one of the best conferences I've attended. Excellent speakers, excellent topics. Of particular interest to Brand Marketing readers, I thought, was a session on new methods for distributing coupons.
Three vendors presented approaches, ranging from low-tech to high-tech.
The low-tech, mass-media option was presented by Roy Messinger of Register Tape International, the largest register tape company in the United States. RTI's product is for national manufacturer coupons instead of the local dry cleaners, and retailers do it for the free tape, as well as increased sales value.
A separate four-color receipt tape is printed, and will be bar coded with both number system 5 and extended coupon code 128. The method has built-in security, because the order receipt copy is printed on the reverse side. Retailer and store-specific execution are available options.
Method panel scan data show RTI on average drives plus-14% incremental volume in test vs. control stores for more than 12 weeks. So far, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Campbell's and Kodak are participating. Call (203) 255-2212 for information.
A middle-tech system was presented by Lee Cuthbert of Coinstar. Coinstar is a kiosk unit that counts loose coins and produces a cash voucher, redeemable for cash, or groceries, in that store only. A 5% to 10% fee is subtracted from the voucher for counting the coins.
The unit also distributes coupons, currently 18 at a time on three pages, perforated. These coupons redeem at 2.5 times the rate of freestanding inserts. To date, 74 manufacturers have participated, among them Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Quaker, Campbell, Johnson & Johnson and Nestle. The company has plans to add an audio/video interface, and eventually to add a card swipe device and move to paperless coupons.
Coinstar is currently in major grocery chains in Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles, including Safeway and Alpha Beta. Expansion plans target 5,000 stores by 1998. Call (206) 644-6042 for more information.
The highest-tech product of the group, Coupon Select, was presented by John Taylor of Acu-Trac. Coupon Select is a coupon delivery device on consumers' television sets, triggered by specific commercials.
Commercials are encoded, sending a signal to a coupon dispenser, which displays a green light when a coupon is available. To print the coupon, the consumer presses a specific button on the remote control device. Five minutes are allocated for the selection of the coupon, and then the option disappears to make room for the next coupon offer.
On a test basis, it costs manufacturers $35,000 to encode the commercial, then they pay only for coupon redemption. The system can be used for in-ads as well as manufacturer coupons and recipes. Several major packaged goods manufacturers have signed for tests scheduled to start this summer in California and on the east coast. For more information call (619) 760-6141.
I like all these products, and so did the ACP audience, which consisted of processors, manufacturers and retailers. The ACP, by the way, has started a committee to increase consumer, manufacturer and retailer awareness of the value of coupons and they need help. Call me at (813) 262-5775 if you're interested in participating.