How technology has changed redeeming habits – what does this mean for the future of promotions?

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Technology has transformed the way brands manage their promotions. / Image by Rohit Tandon on Unplash.

Technology has evolved remarkably over the last decade, with more people having access to the internet at their fingertips than ever before. Gartner predicts there will be over 20 billion internet connected devices by 2020. Considering there are 7.5 billion people on the planet that works out at just over 2.6 internet connected devices per person. This rapid increase in technology has not only changed the way brands run their promotions, but the way customers taking part in the promotion behave too.

Ten or fifteen years ago the majority of promotions would have been mail-in or phone-in. Only a few promotions would have started to utilise text to win or entering online. Even then, customers would have been required to go home, find their receipt or URN and enter it on their home computer.

2013 saw the launch of 4G in the UK alongside mobile phone providers making their data tariffs more affordable for customer. This was largely the turning point for brands and changing the way customers entered promotions. Customers suddenly had access to the internet wherever they were. Promotions could be entered as soon as products were paid for. No longer did they have to wait to get home. Brands needed to ensure that their promotional microsites were mobile friendly and customers could access them easily from mobile and tablet devices.

A famous instant win promotion has seen this effect over the years. Before 4G was launched in 2012 the majority of customers would have entered via their desktop home computer using their wifi. Comparatively in 2018/2019 over 70% of customers entered their codes online via a mobile device.

With customers having access to the internet in a matter of seconds, this has sparked the rise in social media competitions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Brands such as Propercorn and Hippeas, each boasting thousands of followers, regularly run competitions on their Instagram page giving customers the chance to win a prize in a free prize giveaway for a Like and Comment on their post. The evolution of technology has enabled them to reach out and interact with customers on a more personalised level.

This is only going to increase in the future. It is speculated that 5G will launch before the end of 2019 and become widespread in the UK in 2020. 5G will make it even faster and easier for customers to connect to the internet and enter promotions – up to 20 times faster in fact (uSwitch). Brands will need to consider how this impacts on customers entering codes or redeeming their coupons via their mobile devices. However, brands do have some time with this as the first 5G compatible smartphones are not expected to launch until 2020.

5G will allow millions of devices to be connected, simultaneously in densely populated areas. This means customers will be able to enter promotions faster without connectivity issues. An upside to 5G will see an increase in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality within promotions. Brands will be able to utilise gamification in this way to make entering promotions more entertaining. With 5G, customers will be able to stream a movie on a train uninterrupted meaning that augmented reality games will become much more of an actual reality.

Ultimately customers expect more. More personalisation. More interaction. Instant gratification.

Becky Munday is CEO of Mando

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