Many companies go through name changes. Google was originally called BackRub. Nissan was formerly Datsun. And Accenture was previously known as Andersen Consulting.
Besides some obvious reasons for needing to change a company’s name, sometimes it’s just because the business outgrows its original name.
That is the case for Quotient Technology, which formerly was known as Coupons.com. Quotient provides digital coupons and media solutions that are informed by mobile and online data and combined with in-store purchase data.
The business seems to have found its niche, as eMarketer projects that 144 million U.S. adults will use digital coupons in 2020, an approximate 12 percent jump from this year.
The Mountain View, Calif.–headquartered company works with more than 700 consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, as well as grocery, drug and dollar retailers to reach shoppers when they are deciding what to buy and where to shop.
“We help increase sales and loyalty for our business clients and partners while helping shoppers save money,” says Steven Boal, CEO and founder of Quotient Technology.
So why the name change?
“There is a positive association with the word coupons, but in reality, we had become so much more,” said Boal.
Quotient’s main platform is known as Retailer iQ, which aims to power loyalty programs for retailers. Many times the platform connects directly into a retailer’s point-of-sale system.
“In many cases we have access to real-time purchase data to inform marketers’ decisions and effectively reach consumers with relevant promotions and media messages,” said Boal. “While designed to reach consumers online to drive shopping in stores, the platform also works for eCommerce, and so far, one client is using it for just that.”
Quotient’s products also have the capability to work with payment processing systems. Recently the business announced an integration with Samsung via the Samsung Pay platform. Ultimately, this melds the purchase and discounts into a single experience.
From the beginning of the year through early November, Quotient reps say Retailer iQ has delivered more than 2 billion of its digital coupons —more than any year in its 18-year history.
“That growth is mostly because of the growth of our Retailer iQ platform, which makes it really easy for consumers keep up with savings on their phones,” said Boal. “The value for retailers is simple: People who use digital coupons make more frequent shopping trips and buy more products when they do shop than people who don’t use them.”
He said that retailers speak in terms of “shopper basket size,” and the basket growth of those using Quotient’s digital coupons is on average 17 percent compared with those that are not signed up on the platform.
“Put another way: We help drive sales,” said Boal.
The driving allegedly started at the family kitchen table. Boal was at his father-in-law’s house where he was clipping coupons by hand and thinking that there should be a better way to complete the end result of saving money. At the time, Boal was a financial executive specializing in developing technologies, and he also knew how to code.
“People don’t usually think of coupons as a form of currency, but they are,” said Boal.
As the business started up, Boal said he and his developing team spent three years crafting the technology to enable digital coupons to work for the manufacturers who issue the coupons and also for retailers who redeem them.
“Coupons are a form of currency, so manufacturers are required strict security and print limits before digital coupons [would be recognized] as an alternative to paper,” said Boal. “Once the security and print controls were in place, we faced the next challenge: persuading CPGs to shift their promotional budgets to digital.”
That was accomplished by proving the system was secure and working tirelessly to persuade them to try the business concept out, he said. More than a few — now hundreds — have given the business a chance: “Now we work with every CPG brand in the Fortune 500, plus many of others.”
While Quotient began at the kitchen table, it evolved to first include Boal’s wife, Michele, and Michael Walsh and moved to the Boals’ basement in Los Altos, Calif. To date, there are more than 650 employees not just in the Mountain View office, but also Marina Del Rey, Calif.; Cincinnati; New York; London; Paris and Bangalore.
“[We keep] our focus — not getting distracted by the latest trends, which took some discipline across the years,” said Boal of the trajectory of the company. “Lots of new shiny objects appeared on the scene over the years, from whizzy bar code readers on phones, to hardware that, to me, didn’t make sense for the real world.”
There were also plenty of efforts that tried to change the way people shop, added Boal.
“We stayed focused and true to consumers by getting out of Silicon Valley and engaging with our shoppers across America,” he added.
As for looking ahead in terms of the future of coupons and working with retailers, the smartphone is clearly keeping coupons alive, as the paper version disappears.
“I believe growth will continue, and the decline of the paper coupon industry — which is far less efficient — will happen at a faster and faster pace,” said Boal.
And there could be some value for Quotient as augmented and virtual reality, as well as various wearable devices increase in popularity.
“If people end up wearing virtual reality glasses to virtually walk through the virtual store, reaching their hands out into the air to grab the virtual box of cereal, there’s no reason we can’t be part of that, but you can’t feed a family on virtual groceries,” said Boal.
In the interim, Boal said the company will likely continue to connect through the point-of-sale shopping data and enhance the ability to measure the effectiveness of media and other platforms — “all this while saving families money where they need it most, on their weekly grocery shopping budget.”