A coupon for your soul?

Posted by Flux on 

17 December 2013


What’s trending now?

Reward programs, ad supported content.

What persuades millennials (those born roughly between 1977 – 1996) to purchase is very, very different from other generations. Millennials also expect information and media especially online to be free. Enter rewards programs and ad supported content.

Why its important

Firstly, millennials have spending power they are the wealthiest generation in history. In the US alone their buying power is edging on a trillion dollars annually, (

Secondly, they want to be connected, included and valued and most of all they want to participate. And if they benefit from being connected, included, valued and participating all the more reason for them to go for your product. This is what they love most of all, participation benefit. What do they get in return, besides what they are paying for? That is, when they are paying for it. They will jump through a hoop or two to get it for free, reports vary, but with as many as 74% of users preferring ad supported over paid, ad free, apps or content (

What’s the Butterfly Effect

The millennials are a bipolar bunch though, they have high moral standards, love authenticity, and are extremely brand loyal. They love health food for example, but a burger and chips with a voucher for a free movie will see them dropping that salad like a hot potato. Over 50% will switch brands for a coupon and over 60% will purchase a non favorite brand if it is on sale. 35% will sacrifice their values, i.e. buying fairtrade, if they get a better deal. The catch being the rewards have to have real value and real benefits, no sugar coating around here. They expect transparency, value, and authentic, especially if they are cheating on their favorites.

The ultimate value for brands is not necessarily the individual sales, it is the personal data that millennials, and others, will part with when there is something in it for them. Dunkin’ Donuts, the famed donut chain, will be soon introducing their new mobile rewards program on their app. It is very simple, you collect points with every purchase from your app which you can exchange for products later on. The real benefit for the brand however is the personal, social media etc information they get access from getting connected to your online life, but as long as you get a free donut every now and again, who cares?

In a research study done by ResearchNow they pointed out that 47% of women surveyed indicated that they would share their phone location for a mere $5 credit. There is a bit more to it though, according to Jeff Fromm in a recent article on, millennials will give out their private info in exchange for rewards, but they also realise that the more they share, the better and more relevant the brand’s offerings (and rewards) are going to get. If a retailers can do this right and remain completely transparent, they could go from having a reputation as ‘they are spying on me’ to ‘they are building the store just for me’ Erich Dochtermann CEO KD&E.

Millennials are connected creatures, they are addicted to sharing. So much so that 68% of them will not make a decision without discussing it with their peers, talk about marketing going viral. Give them a good deal, they will talk about it.

The pioneers and global hotspots

Noticed the recent roll out of rewards programs by everyone from Medical schemes to coffee shops? Rewards are everywhere but few brands have nailed the participation aspect, here a couple of the best:

South Africa’s own Discovery Health’s Vitality program is a hugely successful rewards program which changed the way the world thinks about medical aid’s, inviting people to take up exercise and eat healthy and so on all for very real rewards.

FNB’s eBucks rewards program works because of its partnerships with retailers, fuel companies etc. FNB claims that many members earn more back in rewards than the cost of their banking fees. They offer very real rewards, as anyone that has ever gone into a SLOW lounge for free will tell you.

McCann recently  came up with a campaign for Coca Cola, in which passengers can pedal while taking a taxi in order to get a discount. The more you pedal the more you save. Aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle, it is however a perfect example of participation marketing.

And just for fun, here is a Japanese startup that offers free underwear, with ads on them for your own eyes, mostly…!

The short and the long is this, if you have an authentic product, coupled with (real) benefits, smoothed over with participation. That is a winning recipe.

By: Pierre du Plessis

About Pierre


Pierre is a communicator, a dreamer and a troublemaker. He loves how we are all connected in more astounding ways and more than we ever thought.
He is completely obsessed with life in contemporary culture and he wallows in new ideas and marvels at how they can restore and re – create our world.

Image credit: UpperCut Images  / Getty Images/Gallo Images

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