Couponing digitally with CVS

CVS just released “a new feature that gives cardholders the ability to send select ExtraCare coupons received by email directly to their ExtraCare card” called “Send to Card”, a digital savings option.  A CVS/pharmacy press release states, “Customers who have opted in to receive ExtraCare emails can choose to send select coupons directly to their ExtraCare cards for automatic, digital in-store redemption, eliminating the need to print those coupons at home and submit paper copies at the register.  As digital couponing is rising in popularity and today’s shoppers look for easier and more convenient ways to save money, this new feature provides customers with the option to receive paperless savings, giving them the choice to save the way they prefer.”

The launch of “Send to Card” is the latest example of how CVS/pharmacy is listening to customer feedback and encouraging more ExtraCare members to take advantage of more of the rewards and coupons available to them.  “Our goal is to offer all 67 million ExtraCare cardholders the choice of how they personally want to engage with our program to receive offers and rewards at CVS/pharmacy,” said Melissa Studzinski, vice president of customer relationship management for CVS/pharmacy. “We encourage all of our cardholders to sign up for ExtraCare emails to take advantage of this new, easy way to save while shopping at CVS/pharmacy.”

I have personally used the send to store digital couponing and found it very handy.  Unfortunately, I often forget about coupons I have been saving when I go shopping.  Now when I am in the mood for couponing, I put the digital coupon on my card, then when it is time for shopping I just focus on shopping.  When I go to the checkout, the cashier informs me that I can also save 25% on the day’s purchases with my “send to card” digital coupon, and I smile and say thanks.  This provides a little extra communication on the cashier’s part, but it saves paper and effort for the consumer.

Have you used the CVS “send to card” digital coupons?  Have you used digital coupons that are similar in nature at other retail locations?  Do you like the digital coupon option?

More than just a cereal box….

“There’s never been a time like this,” says Mark Addicks, chief marketing officer for General Mills. “Because of the digital technology that resides in people’s hands … we can now deliver content that engages and enhances the experience. Before, we had to rely on a 30-second TV ad.”

According to USA Today, General Mills has updated their marketing strategy from a prize found within the cereal box, to incorporating smartphones and the internet through QR (quick response) codes.  Emerging digital technology allows consumers with a single scan of their smartphones to take consumers directly to a specific web page to watch videos, play games, and interact with the brand.    “You point to a logo and things start to appear,” Mark Addicks, a 23-year veteran of the company says. “Maybe some functional content will pop up on a cake-mix box, or you might see entertainment and games coming from a cereal box. What I’m hoping for is pure entertainment.”

As one of the most widely read mediums, the average consumers read the cereal box up to twelve times.  General Mills is capitalizing on this opportunity in new ways.  Are you just reading your cereal box, or have begun to interact with it through this form of emerging media?

Hmm, That’s Pinteresting!

While Pinterest doesn’t have the largest user base, its users are very loyal, as more than half of Pinterest users visit daily. Mark Schaefer, author of the Businesses Grow blog shares, “70% of the site’s users are women and 64% of the site’s fans are under the age of 34. In fact, Pinterest is the third-most widely-used social network for women 18-44 (behind Facebook and Twitter).”

While I am not a current Pinterest user, I know I will be in the future. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “I just gave in to Pinterest. I might have to quit my job so I can have time for all the projects I want to do! This could be very bad.” In response, another Facebooker said, “I looked once, know I would go CRAZY waiting to do it all, so have not gone back for the sake of my sanity!! :)”

Pinterest is meeting the consumers’ needs daily, and wise marketers are getting in the mix to help fulfill those desires for arts & crafts, fashion, interior design, photography, creativity, and even recipes. Pinterest’s “Pins” are having such an effect on consumers that 27% of users have purchased a product after seeing someone else pin that product. In a way, Pinterest is a sharing of ideas and referrals of products, allowing users to organize ideas and encourage creativity.

Do you use Pinterest? If so, why did you decide to join? How often do you visit the site? Do the pins that you see there effect your purchase decisions or how you spend your time? I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

Blogs…why write or go to blogs

Why does a person choose to write a blog?

Blogs help spread messages, address statements, and express opinions.  Bloggers like to express familial and social situations such as a stay-at-mom home sharing pictures of her kids, daily activities, family stories, and laughs.   Some bloggers use the space for an online journal or diary to share their thoughts and ideas.  Several sites are developed for the purpose of making profit by becoming niche blogs that are designed to sell products, product bundles, product reviews, and recommendations.  Blogs can be used for public relations to provide customer support and to facilitate engagement to gather data and establish an email list.

When do I go to blogs?

I enjoy going to blogs to read fun stories about things kids say and do.  I appreciate blogs that offer devotional concepts and thoughts to brighten and uplift my mindset.  I highly value opinions, reviews, and perspectives from consumers who use or test products I am interested in.  Blogs can be a very interesting way to learn about business news and updates.

When do you go to blogs?  What kind of information do you gain from blogs?  Why might you choose to write a blog?

Please feel free to comment about how blogs interact with your life.

Advergaming and viral videos

Fast food companies try to reach children, preteens, and teenagers because these groups make up a large portion of the fast food market.  New ways to advertise, including advergaming and viral videos, are different ways to reach and promote their restaurants.  These methods are effective, because children are spending so much time on their computers and phones in order to play games, watch videos, surf the web, and listen to music.

Restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A are just a few examples of companies who have created online games called ‘advergames’ that have subtle advertising messages.  In addition, viral videos have been designed with elements of humor, surprise, and entertainment to encourage consumers, even little ones, to watch the videos and share with others.  For example, Wendy’s created an entertaining Father’s Day video called “The Baconator”, while Burger King created a video where a head of lettuce chooses to eat a Burger King hamburger.

With television advertising, restrictions exist on the amount of advertisements that can be played during programming directed to kids, but there are no restrictions on advergaming interactions with children.  On a monthly basis, 1.2 million children visit websites containing advergaming and spend at least an hour or more on many of them.

Are restaurant’s advertising to your kids?  Are they interacting with brands with advergming or viral videos?

What is your relationship with advertising?

Are you entertained?

Many examples exist within the ever famous and very expensive Super Bowl advertisements.  Family and friends, even those who are sports fans, gather together to vote and discuss what they believed was the best Super Bowl advertisement.  Hulu ‘s online Adzone provides a collection of just the Super Bowl commercials for individuals to go and relive their favorites, as if it was a television episode or movie worth re-watching.

Are you informed?

Do you feel more educated after seeing a new billboard about a new store coming to town?  Did you appreciate a brand letting you know about a new award it received for its customer service or product performance that encouraged you to give the brand a second chance?

Are you pursued?

As an eligible, single woman is pursued by single men at a bar; do you feel pursued by advertising?  I recently clicked on a T-Mobile online advertisement on a website I was recently on.  Within the next several days, I began seeing more and more T-Mobile advertisements on a variety of different pages I visited.  T-Mobile saw I was interested in their brand and began trying to make themselves more known and available to me, if I choose to take them up on their offer and once again click on their advertisement.  In this situation, the pursuit could be flattering, but it can also become annoying, if continued for too long or if too many advertisements were shown.

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Mobile Device functionality

Content is increasingly being consumed on mobile devices as the acceptance of smartphones and tablets grows.  Consumers are realizing how mobile devices functionality has expanded and can replace a variety of other items.

  • Print books are being replaced by ebooks that are easier to buy and browse.  These ebooks can be read easily on a tablet or smartphone with special apps from a variety of ebook retailers.
  • MP3 players are not needed to play music as smartphones and tablets can complete that function.  As of May 2012, 27% of all United States mobile users listen to music on their phones, compared to 12% in September 2009.  In addition, Pandora’s traffic is 70% mobile.
  • Video watching has increased as the second or third screens consumers use to watch both videos and television shows are tablets and smartphones through streaming applications such as Netflix, or stores such as iTunes.
  • Digital news has grown 17% within the last year, as mobile readers can visit sites more often, spend more time, and read more articles at their convenience away from their computers.
  • Cameras are built into tablets and smartphones along with the ability to send images straight to friends and family through emails, posting to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other social network sites.
  • The internet is accessed by over half of mobile users, and mobile internet access is predicted to take place more often than desktop computer internet usage.
  • Email applications can help connect with work obligations, family, or friends.

The Window Phone illustrates this point well through their commercial.

Presidential Election and Emerging Media… what is changing?

Increased engagement in debates
The number of viewers of the first presidential debate has increased by 19% between 2004 and 2008, to 37.41 million people between the ages of 18 and 49 years of age. Thus, it is important to realize the impact social media has made on this first debate of this election year.  On Twitter, the debate set a record for the most tweeted political event in history, as 10.3 million tweets were generated during the debate.  A high for the evening came when 150,000 tweets per minute were generated when the political issue of Medicare was discussed.  “Many analysts consider that this social media traffic could provide a useful measure of both viewership and audience reaction.”

Increased engagement in candidates

Research shows that 60% of all American adults use either Facebook or Twitter, while 39% of all American adults are using social media to participate in civic or political activities. “Participating” can include “liking” or promoting political issues, encouraging people to vote, posting their own thoughts or comments, reposting someone else’s content, encouraging others to take action, posting links to political stories, joining a group within a social networking site that is involved with political issues, or following elected officials or candidates for office.  These are all actions that may not have been acted upon or encouraged without social networking sites.  While some of these actions seem small, it is providing more opportunities for individuals to become more informed and involved in political issues and topics.

More insight from friends: social media becomes place to express opinions and change minds
Political subjects are not necessarily easy to bring up around the family dining room table or friends at a gathering, yet with social media… it is different.  People can choose to read, reflect, respond, or ignore.  The sender of information is not necessarily placing their views on any one in particular and is less likely to offend friends or family by their comments.  Social media has become a place where people can express their opinions, as well as change their family members’ and friends’ minds.  Research shows, “People whose friends post some (or a lot of) political content on social networking sites are more likely to say that they have changed their minds about a political issue or becomes more involved with a political issue after reading/discussing them on a social network (compared with people whose friends don’t post much political content” said Aaron Smith, a senior research at Pew Internet & American Life Project.

% who have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on a social networking site Source: Pew Internet & American Life Foundation
Among SNS users who say at least some of what their friends post is related to politics:     20%
Among SNS users who say none of what their friends post is related to politics:         4%
Among SNS users who say at least some of what they post is related to politics:         29%
Among SNS users who say none of what they post is related to politics:             9%
Among SNS users who discuss politics (in any venue) “very often” or “sometimes”:     21%
Among SNS users who discuss politics (in any venue) “rarely” or “never”:         6%

More food for thought

Greetings world!

Greetings and welcome to my blog!  My name is Mandy Foss and I am a graduate student in West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communication Master Degree Program.  Through this blog, I would like to address a variety of topics of how emerging media is affecting our lives.  Please feel free to read, enjoy and comment.  Have a great day!

With appreciation and a smile, Mandy

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