CPGmatters: Barilla America Offers Digital Deals to Monetize and Measure Online Media

Mar 11, 2013

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

While recognizing that distribution and redemption rates are still small for digital coupons, Barilla America is looking to them to start learning more about its consumers as well as to manage the future when the digital payback becomes bigger.

In the larger sense, the maker of pasta and pasta sauce is using digital coupons to monetize and measure its use of online media platforms. For example, by integrating digital coupons in several campaigns, Barilla saw redemption rates as high as 60 percent, but also was able to track participation in the programs. In addition, the company promoted trial of new products, tracked home printouts and their redemption, and boosted participation on its Facebook page, among other benefits.

"Coupons are an important component of our digital strategies for many reasons," explains Silvia Sartori, digital marketing manager for Barilla America, who spoke last October in Chicago at the LEAD Marketing Conference. "First of all, they help us measure the effect of our consumer engagement campaigns, and connect them to the real world. People are browsing the web, but we don’t know how much this is affecting real purchases. There are a lot of studies, but still it is something that we were looking for a way to measure. Coupons are one way to measure these connections."

To promote trial of Barilla Whole Grain pasta, the company used Facebook to offer a coupon, and an in-banner ad coupon linked to website with more content about the product. As part of a "Send a Hug Day" promotion, a Facebook app invited people to send a virtual hug to their friends with senders earning a $1 off coupon for Barilla sauces.

In February 2012, an email blast offering a $1 off coupon highlighted its booth at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Later in the year, email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were used to promote summer pasta salads, and introduce a tri-color pasta.

Research from Ipsos MORI has revealed that 73 percent of consumers visiting a brand’s owned digital property expect to find a coupon or promotion. Brands need to deliver on those expectations, says Tim Kane, chief executive officer, CouponFactory, which helped Barilla develop its digital coupon programs. "When they type in your URL, the majority of the time, the first thing they’ll look for is an offer. So we say, don’t disappoint your consumers, but exchange offers for data."

The first time a customer visits a website to print a coupon, the brand should just ask for name and email address. "If you ask too much, they may abandon." But the company should ask for more detailed information on subsequent visits, and incentivize consumers to share the offer, he says.


With usage still low, how should brands and retailers be experimenting in their early approaches to digital coupons? In what ways (trial, customer engagement, customer insights, etc.) may digital coupons wind up providing more value beyond traditional print coupons?

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8 Comments on "CPGmatters: Barilla America Offers Digital Deals to Monetize and Measure Online Media"

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Zel Bianco
9 years 2 months ago

Even though usage is still low, brands need to do what Barilla is doing. Putting a toe in the water and getting started on understanding all of the dynamics of this process including in Barilla’s case, customer insights on which coupons work best, on which brands, etc. They may even be able to determine which pasta sauces are more popular with different shapes of pasta. Is it better to offer a coupon on two or three boxes of pasta or a pasta and sauce? These and many other questions can be answered over time, but you have to get started. Kudos to Barilla for starting the process.

Joan Treistman
9 years 2 months ago

Digital couponing has not yet proven itself as a driver of substantial business for retailers, including Barilla. Barilla is expecting that some time in the future they will see the results they are now gearing up for. However, in the article or elsewhere, there is no foundation for their expectations. Like many marketers Barilla seems to be leveraging a low cost investment. At the end of the day Barilla could be forgoing long-term engagement to build loyal customers.

Paula Rosenblum
9 years 2 months ago

Digital couponing is the way to go, but I find most retailers haven’t found the right way to engage me. I’ll be in a [national drug chain] store and they’ll say, “You know you can get coupons on line, right?” Ditto with my local grocer. But neither has given me a URL, an app name, or anything like that. It’s all very vague, and I’m not budget-conscious enough to hunt and peck for them.

Stick a QR code right by the register, or by the door on the way in. “Come and get your coupons right here.” With appropriate instructions. That’s the way to get it done.

Cathy Hotka
9 years 2 months ago

By having a tangible way to track which promotional vehicle has the most impact, Barilla will learn more about the age and financial status of its digitally-oriented customer base. Smart move.

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
9 years 2 months ago

Brands should be learning (1) what works best for their loyal consumers and (2) how to shift from broadcast to personalized.

The idea in the article to “exchange offers for data” is one that brands need to embrace. They need to do so in a way that builds a growing bank of useful consumer-level data, not just more islands of disparate data.

Max Goldberg
9 years 2 months ago

Brands need to test different methods of coupon delivery to gain a better understanding of how to interact with consumers. They also should experiment with offering purchase opportunity within a brand’s Facebook page. CoupSmart has made this possible, thereby negating the need to leave Facebook to take advantage of an offer.

Retailers need to make it possible for consumers to use electronic coupons without requiring them to be printed, and seamlessly link those coupons to loyalty cards.

The world of couponing is changing. Both brands and retailers need to experiment with new means of issuing and redeeming coupons.

Mark Heckman
9 years 2 months ago

Digital coupon usage is gaining traction, albeit not at a pace many advocates would like to see. However, early adapters are going to be miles ahead of those who wait for the market to break. To that point, Kroger has announced their intentions to amp up digital and given their track record of success in almost anything they endeavor, I would bet on them being right again.

Digital content and coupons provide enormous upside in flexibility in targeting, cost efficiency, quick return of analytics, and consumer benefit. What’s missing now is sufficient, relevant content to engage shoppers. Once retailers like Kroger begin to push content away from print to digital, the pace of both consumer and brand acceptance will accelerate significantly!

Dan Frechtling
9 years 2 months ago

Given low reach, digital coupons work best as a means to an end.

Measuring the effectiveness of different types of digital media is one end. Beyond Facebook and online display ads, Barilla is in a position to track the effectiveness of third party media like Twitter, retailer partnerships, and mobile. It can also optimize first party owned and operated media like websites, microsites, landing pages and email.

Furthermore, Barilla has the opportunity to enroll respondents into email or SMS programs, which enable repeat purchases without having to spend online media budgets again. These programs can also gather valuable ratings, reviews, testimonials and other user-generated content that enrich all online efforts.


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