LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

COUPON-BASHING HAS GONE OUT OF STYLEcent articles on the problems of traditional couponing ("Vendors Questioning Value of Couponing" -- Supermarket News, June 6; "Debate Over Coupons Heats Up as Marketing Value Is Questioned" -- Brand Marketing, May 30).Coupon-bashing has gone in and out of style for years. The fact of the matter, however, is that couponing plays a well-established role in promotion

COUPON-BASHING HAS GONE OUT OF STYLE

cent articles on the problems of traditional couponing ("Vendors Questioning Value of Couponing" -- Supermarket News, June 6; "Debate Over Coupons Heats Up as Marketing Value Is Questioned" -- Brand Marketing, May 30).

Coupon-bashing has gone in and out of style for years. The fact of the matter, however, is that couponing plays a well-established role in promotion and will continue to be used by manufacturers for a long, long time to come, because coupons are popular with consumers (more than 8 billion were redeemed last year alone). In addition, the latest technology is allowing couponing to become stronger and more effective.

The current pinnacle of coupon evolution is electronic in-store couponing, which I was disappointed to see was not even mentioned in either of these articles. This oversight is all the more glaring because, contrary to the implications that coupons are a dying breed, electronic coupon programs offer advantages that other types of marketing simply cannot match:

Targeted marketing -- Electronic couponing programs issue coupons based on actual purchase behavior. Because they are more pertinent to consumers' actual buying patterns, they have higher redemption rates. Checkout coupons have redemption rates 317% greater than FSIs.

The hassle-free factor -- Electronic couponing programs are convenient because customers only receive coupons for products they are likely to purchase, and no clipping is required. Moreover, because such programs print fewer coupons and produce higher redemption rates, they are less costly to manufacturers while often bearing a higher face value.

Long-term strategy -- Electronic coupons can meet multiple objectives based on a variety of purchase and category information, and can be employed strategically to impact brand loyalty and sales after the promotion has ended.

While electronic coupons currently account for only 1% to 2% of all couponing, they have experienced enormous growth over the past few years. They are proof that, far from being an endangered species, coupons are still evolving and are just beginning to realize their full potential.

-- GEORGE OFF

president Catalina Marketing Corp.

St. Petersburg, Fla.

REAL FRIEND REMEMBERED

Last month, Brooke Lennon, an executive officer of Grand Union, was murdered. He was an innovative marketer and merchandiser, and a real friend of our industry. As a person, Brooke was always very generous with his time for industry and charitable causes.

Death took Brooke too soon, and we miss him.

-- BURT FLICKINGER 3RD

management consultant A.T. Kearney

New York