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4 Influencers that Make Coupon Marketing Cool

The coupon industry has come a long way from the nostalgic days of my grandmother clipping coupons from Manchester, New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper. In some ways, it's even become "cool."  Inmar, a company that operates collaborative commerce networks reported that more than 311 billion coupons were distributed in the U.S. in 2011, 3.5 billion of those coupons having been redeemed. 

I had an enjoyable conversation with Tom Burgess, the CEO of Linkable Networks  last week, and learned a lot about the evolution in coupon technology and trends. More on my interview, here. One of my takeaways from that talk was, "When and why did it become cool to coupon?"

I see four trends and technologies that have collectively shifted our perception and acceptance of "couponing."  

1.  Groupon

2008 was the beginning of the shift. When the first email landed in my in-box and I was given 60% off the regular price for a gondola ride around the bay, I remember thinking "this is pretty cool." Apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt that way, and they daily deal industry got red hot. I still tell my friends, "I've got this Groupon we should use..." 

2.  Social Sharing

When daily deals were exceptionally awesome, we'd email them. Then the guys at Living Social, Bloomspot and the aforementioned got even smarter, and both enabled and encouraged us to socially share our deals with Facebook and Twitter. "Get three friends to buy the same deal, and yours is free," has now been emulated across all sorts of other industries, including direct selling. All because, it works. If someone stumbles across an incredible daily deal, you bet they'd better Facebook me about it before it's too late--I wanna' know.

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3.  Mobile 

Don't go reading this article and think, "I'd better get out there and invest in the OXO company and their Good Grips™ Scissors." I mean go ahead if you like, they're darn good scissors, only, the correlation between scissors and coupons isn't as strong as it once was. Mobile phones and technology have changed all that. In fact, through 2011, InMar reports having processed 17 million, sans-scissor, digital coupons. The ability to download and redeem via scan makes couponing both more convenient and cool. 

4.  Collective Acceptance About "The Economy"

I went to see comedian Kevin Nealon a few weeks back at a comedy club here in San Francisco. Part of his gig played on use of the occasional, and random statement, "You know, with the economy and all." He would say things like, "You know with the economy, you can't waste ice cream."

What makes this funny, is that it resonates to us. We've heard the expression used at length, and it's become commonplace. Part of this ubiquity is that we've collectively "accepted" the economy. Yeah, times are tough, and because of that, getting a "good deal" is an entirely acceptable thing to do. Proof of this for me was introducing my parents to the 99-cent Only store, and the occasional report I get from them on a recent great find they've made there. 

What do you think? Is there a "5th" in there somewhere I may have missed in my effort to quickly publish my thoughts and "buck" the popularity of odd numbered lists? I welcome your thoughts.

Happy couponing!

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