RetailMeNot Says Consumers Start With Deals and Stay for Brands or Retailers

In the narrative of the retail scene, the consistent theme over the last two years has been the influence of inflation on consumer spending. However, this impact extends beyond the mere allocation of funds, as promotions and discounts have now become even more integral to the overall shopping experience. 

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Frank Minervini, the vice president and head of marketing at Ziff Davis Shopping, the parent company of RetailMeNot, delves into the observations the company has made regarding consumer behavior and outlines the strategies in place to adapt to these evolving trends. 

“Shoppers have been impacted by inflation for the past two years and they are now changing their journey — kicking off their shopping by exploring sales and discounts first,” Minervini said. 

Solidifying that statement is a recent consumer data survey conducted by RetailMeNot which indicates that 53% of consumers now initiate their shopping by delving into sale items, altering their journey in response to available discounts. What’s more, one-third of shopper’s plan to use sales and discounts even more in 2024, making them their preferred starting point for shopping. 

Minervini said RetailMeNot has found that half of its customers are more likely to explore a brand or retailer after encountering it on a deal site. Additionally, an equal proportion of consumers say deal sites motivate them to broaden their shopping baskets. 

Current State of the Consumer

PYMNTS reports a considerable number of individuals are turning to credit cards to navigate challenging financial circumstances. 

In the “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report,” titled “The Credit Card Use Deep Dive Edition,” PYMNTS Intelligence discovered that close to 60% of individuals living paycheck to paycheck possess credit cards. Among these consumers, 80% own an average of two credit cards. 

Considering this, consumers are focused on saving every penny, emphasizing the importance of making every aspect of the shopping journey both crucial and cost-effective. 

With that in mind, Minervini said RetailMeNot is looking to find extra ways to accommodate such behaviors.

“We’re looking to expand our support for what we internally refer to as, ‘auto stacking’ or automatically combining coupons with cash back to maximize savings on every purchase,” Minervini said.  

Where Consumers Look for Deals

When looking for holiday deals, Minervini said this past holiday season shoppers were really into getting discounts on Apple products (which don’t usually go on sale, so Black Friday is a great time), PS5 consoles, monitors (because many are working from home and looking for good deals on monitors), streaming services, Dyson Airwrap, big TVs, and Lululemon. 

When it comes to streaming services, Minervini said, “Stream-flation has plagued shoppers in 2023, which has consumers considering which services (and monthly bills) to cut.” 

Supporting this claim is a report from PYMNTS indicating a growing trend among Americans to reduce their streaming subscriptions. In November, the cancellation rate for streaming services rose to 6.3%, up from 5.1% the previous year. Furthermore, about one-fourth of U.S. subscribers to major platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ have dropped at least three of these services in the last two years. This marks a significant rise from the 15% reported two years ago, signaling a trend of fickleness among streaming subscribers, as noted by The Wall Street Journal. 

Read more: 25% of Streaming Customers Canceling Multiple Subscriptions 

“This is why we’re seeing a lot of shoppers seeking out streaming deals. And services are meeting them where they’re at with 70% to 80% off the monthly cost for a VERY long time (six months to a year). We’ve seen solid deals for consumers who want to pare down their streaming bills in the new year (and a savvy move from the services, which surely hope these subscribers just might forget to cancel after their discounted period),” Minervini continued. 

Minervini also pointed out an increased interest in espresso machines among site visitors this year, suggesting that the espresso maker could be the equivalent of 2023’s air fryer. 

However, Minervini noted a decline in the appeal of gadgets like pressure cookers and air fryers, which were previously popular during Black Fridays, attributing it to market saturation. The baking trend that led to rapid sell-outs of KitchenAid mixers on Black Friday in 2020 and 2021 has also diminished. Nevertheless, there remains a robust demand for sophisticated countertop appliances. 

“In January, we usually see an uptick in interest for travel deals, personal finances (with tax season around the corner) and the health and fitness category,” Minervini said. 

 What to Expect From RetailMeNot in 2024 

“A renewed focus on loyalty and rewards,” Minervini said. 

While cash back remains a top priority, the company is actively exploring ways to involve more partners, introduce new incentives, incorporate digital gift cards, and integrate wallets more deeply. The main goal is to ensure users save on every purchase using promo codes, coupons, and direct cash back. 

Minervini highlighted the growing appeal of experimental marketing among younger consumers, approximately 25% according to RetailMeNot data. Engaging experiences, such as 360 videos, video games, and augmented reality, act as lively hubs for brand discovery, offering a dynamic pathway for niche consumers to connect with brands. To tap into this trend, RetailMeNot is expanding its efforts in branded content and influencer marketing.