By Theresa Wabler, Theresa.Wabler@Parago.com
As retailers and manufacturers settle into the reality of the “new normal” of shoppers who will continue their frugal consumption habits amidst recession or not, it’s crucial to employ promotional tactics that generate significant, lasting value, not just a flash in the pan. As marketers consider their options, one tried and true promotional tactic should be included to yield definite results: rebates.
The value of rebate programs is at an all-time high thanks to consumer shopping behavior. Sensitivity to price continues to endure, and shoppers are willing to hunt for bargains more than ever. Consumers still comb through circulars and price compare on shelf, but now 'showrooming' and digital price comparison has made product-level price competition even more contentious.
The good news for marketers is that while price perception is king, consumers are indifferent to how that price point is achieved — whether through rebate, coupon, club or sale. However, since consumers understand that rebates offer deeper discounts than other sales, there is a strong interest in the promotions and shoppers are actively looking for rebates before and during the shopping experience. In fact, a 2012 survey of more than 1,000 consumers showed that 80% of shoppers actively look for rebates.
Smart marketers are able to leverage rebates to drive lowest price perception while achieving additional marketing benefits that coupons and instant discounts can't touch. Rebates provide high-value customer information during the redemption process, and with the right rebate reward, drive customers back to buy more, creating ongoing engagement. Rebates deliver the opportunity for ongoing interaction with consumers.
The rebate process naturally provides the sponsor with purchase data, consumer demographics and 67% of consumers opt-in for special deals and promotions — creating a significant, intelligent database. Additionally, modern rebate programs have been shown to facilitate a valuable brand interaction, which translates into a positive customer experience. Over the past two years, price has steadily risen as the primary diver of consumers’ purchasing decisions, from 60 percent in 2010 to 66% in 2012.
Thanks to new technology, rebates are simple to redeem today. In many instances, they involve an easy click of a mouse and a few fields of information, with rewards being delivered in as little as two weeks. Consumers also now have a choice of payout method, including paper check, branded prepaid card, gift cards and even PayPal. Rebate programs are now designed based on research and consumer best practices, with proactive communication like status alerts, easy tracking and customer service.
For decades, rebates have proven to be effective consumer promotions that drive sell-through of specific products while providing savings to price-conscious. But their enduring value has continued to increase among shifting shopper trends. Now, marketers can feel confident incorporating rebates into their overall strategies since they have evolved from a simple “sales lift” tool to a tactic that will generate long-term consumer loyalty and brand affiliation.
Theresa Wabler is the director of marketing at Parago, a leading global source for incentive and engagement programs that motivate consumers, sales channels and employees. Prior to joining Parago, Theresa had a number of strategic marketing roles with incentive and payments companies, including Citi Prepaid. She can be contacted at Theresa.Wabler@Parago.com.