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Will that be a coupon and cash?

Poor people need low prices. Rich people love low prices. Either way, everybody loves a bargain. It can even make us all spend more than we planned.

So says Todd Hale, senior vice president for Consumer & Shopper Insights at The Nielsen Company. Writing in the December issue of Nielsen’s Consumer Insights, Hale notes: “These are happy days for the promotion industry, as manufacturers and retailers update time-proven promotional techniques.”

His reference is to the fact that, with tough times a certainty in 2009, consumers will likely spend less on products that don’t deliver a rational benefit and buying on a deal will increasingly become the norm. And, in the world of getting a deal, couponing is among those most time-proven promotional techniques in retailing.

Coupon activity had actually been slowly falling in recent years. Last year, however, coupon use did not decline at all. That has set the stage for consumers, looking for more deals in a bad economy, to increase coupon redemptions in ’09.

Over the years, it’s been my observation that marine retailers haven’t used promotional coupons very much. But experts like those at The Nielsen Company predict consumers will take advantage of what they will see as a cost-cutting strategy in tough times.

Moreover, it’s never been easier for dealers to provide customers with coupons via such channels as e-mail, invoice stuffers, in-store displays, postcards and even mobile phones. So the barriers to using coupons to promote business are virtually non-existent, and coupon ideas need only some imagination.

Coupons are ideally suited for promoting marine accessory purchases and services. But they can also do the job of providing that bargain extra “with the purchase of this boat,” and so on.

Coupons that offer a customer an added discount for cash can really be a win-win. That’s because credit card companies are reportedly raising fees on retailers. Go figure! As I see it, that gives dealers more motivation to offer discounts for customers willing to pay cash. Customers are already seeing that happen — for example, at gas stations with convenience stores. Many, like Citgo stations and Convenient Food Marts, already offer lower gas prices for cash purchases.

Passing on savings to customers through coupons and cash can help put more of the latter in your register. After all, in these times cash rules, and you want to be king. And who knows, as more and more retail channels offer discounts for cash, the credit card companies may just wake up to see they’ve shot themselves in the foot, and fees for retailers could come back down.



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