The right offer at the right time can persuade a reluctant buyer to make a purchase, or a once-loyal shopper to switch brands. Today's empowered consumer really does pay attention to incentives throughout their whole shopping journey, with savings influencing almost every decision they make, according to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting for RetailMeNot. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

RetailMeNot commissioned the study to evaluate the current state of discounts and offers throughout the consumer shopping journey. The results show the continued importance of discounts for today's savvy shoppers, and highlight new opportunities for retailers to gain new customers, increase customer loyalty, and drive additional revenue.

While the retail industry continues to evolve, one thing remains true: discounts are important for driving purchases. Today's shopping journey is often predicated on a coupon or discount sparking the intent to purchase. In fact, shoppers agree that discounts can influence where they shop (77%) and speed up the decision-making process (48%), even more so than good customer service and selection of products. Additionally, two-thirds of shoppers will either not shop without a discount or will look for discounts before they begin shopping.

The data also shows that across all categories, brand loyalty is up for grabs based on available discounts. More than half of shoppers (55%) have abandoned a shopping cart due to costs being too high and a third of shoppers (32%) have abandoned because they found a discount with a different retailer.

"While some things continue to change in the retail landscape, the incremental gains retailers can garner from a smart promotional strategy remain the same," said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer, RetailMeNot, Inc. "Shoppers are feeling optimistic and ready to spend, but crave discounts to feel they are using their money wisely. These deals can then drive other positive behaviors such as speedy decision making and increased brand loyalty."

Shoppers increasingly turn to streamlined channels that make finding discounts easier. In fact, 71% of shoppers want one savings destination for all of their discounts or offers. The popularity of savings apps has grown the most since a similar study Forrester Consulting conducted on behalf of RetailMeNot in 2014: 38% of shoppers say they use savings apps today, a twenty-eight percentage point increase from 2014.

To receive product recommendations or specific offers, today's shoppers are willing to trust retailers with personal information. More than half of consumers (60%) will tell retailers the types of products they like if asked, and 52% are willing to receive in-store texts with discounts while they are shopping in a physical store.

"To win with today's customers, retailers need to keep the basics of smart promotional strategies and streamlined experiences in mind," said Tarleton. "By continuing to weave smart promotional strategies into everyday marketing tactics, retailers can stay top of mind for consumers and ahead of the competition."

The full study has been made available for free download from RetailMeNot's web site: