Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Twofer Post: The Newb Weekend - Mermaids and Coupons

Part I:
So I know it's Tuesday and all but I haven't caught you guys up on my weekend activities so bear with me while I do that. As you know from the previous post, I spent some time with my godsisters. Cutest little girls you'll ever meet. More cute if you get em all high on sour patch kids and Coke, endure the resulting hyper Hyper HYPER half hour and then blessedly watch them crash hard on your couch. Yes, I'm going to be that kind of parent.

Anyway, that was Monday. We spent Sunday at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood to watch a revival of The Little Mermaid. It's a great movie to take little girls to because the plot/moral of the story plays out like this:

  • Girl grows up with overprotective father, dreams of better things, rebels
  • Girl listens to more experienced woman, hatches a plan to meet boy
  • Girl meets boy, falls in love
  • Girl gets in trouble from listening to old woman, is saved by boy, who destroys old woman
  • Girl handed to boy by father
Patriarchy reigns supreme! Schweet.

[Update: The fairer sex has provided an alternative description to the Little Mermaid story:
  • Father stifles creative, inquisitive, and accepting characteristics in daughter
  • Daugher seeks independant path rife with insecurity and danger to seek out self destiny
  • Daughter brings love and life to ignorant boy unable to see what is in front of his face and easily tricked and deceived by other women
  • Daughter has pitty on foolish boy, loves him anyway, and breaks curse easily put on him by other woman
  • Daughter ultimately softens the heart of Father who sees error in his ways
Ok, I guess that might work too. =) ]

Part II:
Oh yeah, I also went shopping this weekend. It's been about a year since I've actually gone on a shopping trip(you know, one of those full day thingies at the outlet malls). The outlet of choice this weekend was Camarillo Premium Outlets. The "Premium" means it's good for you!

Now I wouldn't normally bore you with an outlet shopping story but this one has some relevance. First, let me say that I hate spam. Absolutely despise it. I most hate forwarded mail and if you ever forward me something, I will eat your children. That said, I'm not, however, against email marketing in general. I have a handful of relationships with brands from which I tolerate the occasional email. Send me email more than once a month and I usually hunt for the opt-out.

One of the brands I tolerate is the company that owns these outlet malls. They do a nice job of staying in the background and occasionally dropping me a line with "hey, we're like, doing something special this weekend, so if you're not doing anything, like drop by mmkay?" But it's not these "thinking bout you" notes that keep this relationship going, it's the cold hard cash.

They have a great online coupon system. Before you go shop, you visit the site and print out a little voucher for a coupon book or you can print out individual coupons for certain stores. I like this from two perspectives: As a consumer, I love that it helped me save over a hundred bucks this weekend. As a marketer, I love that it uses online to feed into offline behavior and that it's totally trackable. Unfortunately, the tracking falls short.

For example, I used a coupon from Banana Republic this weekend. Coupon code was: 174. In terms of tracking, here's what they know:
  • Camarillo store's online coupon program got a hit
This is pretty valuable information since you want to at least know if anyone is using your coupons. However, they could go much further. Imagine if the coupon I printed out had a unique number, say JvJ-24601. Here's what they could know:
  • Camarillo store's online coupon program got a hit
  • My transaction information
    • How much I spent
    • What I bought
    • If I used a CC and if so, which one?
  • My name
  • My address (real and email)
  • My demographic data based on my zip code which includes things like:
    • Avg household type
    • Avg household income
    • Avg education
    • Ethnic mix
    • Typical brand usage (Trucks vs. Benzo's)
  • My response rate to emails
  • Other coupons I printed out
  • My historic usage of coupons, which tells them
    • My lifestyle (Eddie Bauer vs Hugo Boss)
    • My spending pattern (frequent or infrequent shopper)
If you think this is all in theory, I'm afraid not. Although they didn't track me to this level for this program, there are other marketers that have done similar if not more. This type of information is incredibly valuable to marketers because it allows them to better target a very very big world. Ultimately, they can save marketing dollars and increase purchases. As a consumer, I should probably be worried but in reality, very few marketers have gotten their act together enough to gather, let alone use, this type of information. As far as Banana Republic is concerned, someone used coupon 174 and that's fine with me.

The take away from all this? Like dating online, when you engage with a brand relationship online and then decide to take it offline, know what you're getting into. You rarely find a free ride but when you do, take advantage of it.

No comments: