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Win Sales From Recession-Minded Consumers

Here are 3 ways to woo shoppers this summer, when the spotlight's on saving.

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Ask American consumers of all ages and income levels and they'll tell you their focus this summer is on savings. In a recession --with gas and food prices soaring--consumers are making serious choices every day about how and where to spend their dollars. And everyone from kids to seniors is looking for ways to save money.

As an entrepreneur, your challenge right now is to increase while giving consumers what they want, without cutting into your profitability. That means offering savings that draw customers at a time when many are cutting back on purchases. To ensure you're up to the task, master these four smart ways to woo summertime shoppers with savings:

1. Market Special Promotions
Rather than across-the-board price cutting--which can wreak havoc with your bottom line--use special promotions to draw in customers looking for savings. These can be short-term promotions on everyday items, or you can create a new, special bundle of products or services that will appeal to your target audience and offer that at a tempting price point. Once in your store or on your website, customers may make additional purchases.

One of the critical elements of recession-era is understanding shifting customer perceptions. Right now some products or services that were previously viewed as everyday staples are seen as luxuries, while others have retained their desirability. , for example, fall into the latter category, as recent studies show that most Americans simply wouldn't give them up. Discover what your unique customer base wants most that you can provide, and develop special promotions that make your most desirable products or services more accessible through savings.

2. Modernize Coupons
Coupons are back thanks to the recession. After a steep decline in popularity over the past decade, now two-thirds of shoppers plan more coupon use, according to a recent ICOM survey. In fact, consumers in the 18-to-34-year-old bracket, are the most likely to use coupons in a recession, closely followed by 35-to-54-year-olds. Income doesn't seem to make a significant difference as coupons are equally attractive to both upper- and lower-income households.

Right now, online coupons of all kinds are a tiny percentage of the overall coupon market. But they're gaining favor as more websites offer downloadable coupons. And nearly 80 percent of consumers surveyed in the 18-to-34 age group say they're much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons if they can download them and have them automatically connected to an electronically swiped frequent shopper card. Watch this trend, as it may be the way of the near future for couponing.

3. Woo Stay-at-Home Shoppers
With the rising cost of gas, consumers are saving money by making fewer individual shopping trips, and online shopping from home has become a part of everyday life. The vast majority of Americans now researches purchases on the internet before buying them online or in a brick-and-mortar store. And many shoppers this summer are looking to save money by ordering products online that ship free.

There's never been a better time to tune up your website and make it an attractive, efficient and even fun shopping experience. Be sure to feature special promotions and savings on your main page. Specials that appear close to the top of your page will grab the greatest attention. This summer, combine promotional e-mails to your in-house database with the announcement of special offers on your website to keep current customers coming back for more. And carefully track the results of each promotion to determine which has the greatest appeal.

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