Relevance — Is it Worth the Effort?

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Jim Lucas
Jim Lucas



shopper-relevanceThe widespread acceptance of digital and mobile technology has greatly increased the opportunities for having conversations with consumers. And with these opportunities come an increased need to provide relevance.

A look at three examples helps inform this new, significant view of relevance:

1) Couponing reveals something important about relevance. Traditionally, the FSI (free standing insert) has dominated couponing (nearly 90 percent of coupons distributed) (1), yet only a small fraction of FSIs are redeemed. In contrast, online and mobile coupons have much higher redemption rates. Presumably, online and mobile coupons have better redemption rates because they are more relevant. This tells us relevance is not easily scalable.

2) Shoppers’ expectations for relevance are escalating. Consumers appear more willing than ever to provide personal information to marketers (e.g., loyalty programs, Facebook, etc.) in exchange for more relevant conversations, offers and rewards. Amex’s Live. Love. Link., Stop and Shop’s Modiv program and CVS’s Extra Care card are examples of programs that use consumer information to provide more relevance. Clearly, relevance is about delivering value.

3) QR codes have grown dramatically. According to ScanLife, there were 2.7 million QR codes created in 2011 and 5.3 million QR scans in June 2012, the highest single month in history of QR codes (2). Yet the value of QR codes has not been fully utilized. The juice must be worth the squeeze. We’ve all had the experience of snapping a QR code, only to be disappointed by the results. Using QR codes, short codes or AR — whether in-store, on a billboard or poster, in a magazine or at a bus shelter — should provide information germane to the task consumers are being asked to perform (e.g., consideration, education or inspiration). Hyper-relevance is critical in today’s me-here-now world.

To realize the full potential of the new apertures provided by digital and mobile, marketers must deliver relevance. Relevance is one of Rohit Bhargava’s principles of "Likeonomics" (3), which he defines as getting someone to care about something right now. The cost of irrelevance is indifference.


  1. NCH Annual Coupon Facts, 2012.
  2. Mobile Barcode Trend Report, Q22012, ScanLife.
  3. Likeonomics, Rohit Bhargava, 2012.

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