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The new face of coupon deployment

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I am a self-admitted label whore.

I’ve been this way my entire life and am a sucker for designer clothes and accessories. We all know that coupons and fashion freebee’s are excellent incentives to get customers purchasing and aware of new products, especially in today’s economy. Instead of the traditional direct mail coupons and ads, some companies are beginning to turn to new methods.

Diane von Furstenberg, better known to the more fashion acclimated crowd as DVF, recently used Twitter to promote a fashion event in NYC. She purchased a Promoted Trend and used various related search terms for the event and her flagship store, which is located in Manhattan.

Her team monitored Twitter and check-ins using Foursquare. Every hour a lucky Twitter Follower would receive a direct message notifying them that they had won a bottle of DVF’s new fragrance that won’t hit stores until late September. The recipients also received directions and a special password to her brick-and-mortar store to claim their prize.

DVF did this in hopes of bridging the gap between social media and brick-and-mortar stores, thus increasing interaction between consumer and designer. Many think that brick-and-mortar stores are on their way out. WRONG. Even though our society lives in the digital age and a lot of consumers shop online- there are things you cannot receive online that you can in the store. A recent Google “Mobile Movement” study found that fifty-five percent of consumers who research and browse for goods on their mobile device visit a store afterward, with forty percent making an actual purchase from the brick-and-mortar store.

This company is not the only one beginning to launch products via social media. Burberry is also rolling out a campaign to send samples of their new fragrance, which doesn’t hit stores until mid-September, to their Facebook Fans. You simply “like” their page and go to the Burberry Body tab to request a sample.

Since I am a label whore, I immediately logged onto Facebook and requested a sample! Who doesn’t love a free bottle of perfume?  I signed up for a similar trial in High School. I was sent a free huge bottle of Ralph Lauren Rocks perfume and have been a loyal buyer of it ever since.

Beauty researchers have found that Facebook fans tend to be the most loyal and engaged customers. This soft launch act not only creates awareness but increases “likes” on their Facebook page, and surely draws traffic to their other social media sites and website. It also generates word-of-mouth buzz which is still one of the most trusted forms of advertising. After receiving the free bottle of Ralph Lauren perfume, I bragged to all my friends about it and now they steal a few sprays every time they come over!

I believe that these companies may be onto something. Maybe the rest of the advertising world should begin to market and send samples to brand loyalists. If social media truly is the way of the future, companies and agencies should look at turning Facebook Fans into brand evangelists–ones that will sing their praises of favorite brands to the heavens.

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