Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Escaling and Coupons

Escaling/e-scaling is not electronic scaling, despite the implicitness of my term. Some of you who are familiar with typography would know about E scales, plastic rulers used for measuring printed letters (using capital E as standard), line spacings, and line thicknesses. I bought and used two when I took desktop publishing, um, way back. Looking at them recently provided a trip down memory lane for uses. Those of you who used E scale(s), what features did yours have?

A couple of weeks ago, I started my usual pre-grocery store ritual of reviewing print coupons to consider using. OK. Tossed out expired ones that I wasn't all that committed to using. Re-stuffed ones into my later-packet that I can wait another couple of weeks. I put the will-use coupons into will-use packet and scribbled the item onto the grocery list with a circumscribed C—"©".

Coupons inspired me think about typography in coupons in addition to usage for buying products and savings or not. Most of my comments pertain to printed grocery store and eatery coupons. The pixstrip includes scans of my Escales and some sample coupons that have characteristics I've listed.

If anyone is in marketing, it'd be great if you would pass this article to your group. If you or your group have anything to do with coupons, my article has the most to say about those incentives. (I'm excluding looking at Groupon here.)

Like for the following types of coupons, applicable mostly for eateries
  • Bundling purchase of buying main item and getting side and beverage for free
  • Bundling purchase of buying side and beverage and getting main item for free
  • Buying one item and getting one free
  • Deep discount, such as half off
  • Bundling purchase of buying one meal and getting kid version for free
Like for practices by companies for the following features in grocery coupons
  • Picture(s) of product
  • Legible flavors and names of options, related to typography regarding font size and foreground/background
  • Flexibility for sizes applied to and available (really good—applicable to any size)
  • For meal-type coupons, adding the store area to seek the items, particularly TV dinners or pre=prepared that are room-temperature, refrigerated, or not obviously frozen-types
  • For salad dressing coupons for refrigeration-required dressings, mentioning that they're in refrigerated areas. Same goes for salsas.
  • Minimizing ALLCAPS for helping readability (mixed case for visual reading cues) saving physical space
  • "Save [coupon value]" rather than "[coupon value]" off
  • Savings value in eye-catching 24-point typeface size or larger
Like (preferences) for expiration information, tilted slightly more about coupons for groceries than eateries
  • At least a month duration
  • The last day of the month
  • Sunday preference over Saturday
  • At least 8-point font
  • Black text on white background (red on yellow common and reasonable)
  • Location at the top of the coupon
Forehead furrows—imho, questionable strategies in grocery coupons
  • Tear-off coupons on products
    • Some customers might forget to tear them off while in the checkout line.
    • Some customers might tear them off the packages for use in the future.
  • Lack of expiration dates
Thumbs down for various practices on coupons
  • Requirement to buy more than one item for obtaining the savings, particularly if rolling out a new product
  • Requirement to buy multiple different items for obtaining the savings, requiring navigation to different parts of the store
  • Inverse colors (e.g., white text on black) for coupon expirations and flavor options
  • Even worse, grays for either foreground, background, or both
  • "$.nn¢"—indicates ignorance or inattention to detail
  • Puny-value coupons—25 or 35¢, buy 2 and save ¢. Really? YMMV for what you consider puny.
  • Oversize or overwide coupons that require folding for fitting into a coupon pouch, often obscuring info, requiring that I choose between image/conditions or expiration
Related irritation: Major drugstore chains with overpriced items even with half-off or buy one-get-one-free alleged savings, in addition to requiring loyalty cards for discounts

Other coupon shape considerations
Landscape orientation provides more room for wordwrap than portrait. Also, they're easier to file and pull up for viewing the info. Square or almost square coupons seem to not provide obviously visual sectioning between image, size/variety info, and grocer conditions.

Leftover comments about eatery ads and coupons
  • Ads with the following items that can coax the consumer to visit
    • Address and map of eatery, unless the eatery is a well-known chain
    • Website
    • QR code icon
  • Irritation about the following conditions that some coupons have:
    • One-week expirations, particularly time window for start/end
    • Time effectivity, such as usable only after 5pm
What features do you see in the images I've included that appeal to you, intrigue you, or bug you? What do you like or dislike about ads and coupons that you run across?

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