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Podcast

Fobi Insider - Episode 14: Reinventing the Coupon

This week, we talk to Brandi Johnson of The Coupon Bureau about what the new "8112" coupon standard means for the world's largest CPG companies - and how Fobi's universal data integration and wallet pass solution will help make it accessible to anyone, anywhere.


For the trillion-dollar global CPG industry, updating the technology behind the coupon will generate billions in cost savings & new revenues from vastly improved fraud prevention and marketing activations.

Brandi Johnson of The Coupon Bureau spent years developing a new industry-level standard for smart coupons with leading CPG brands.  Now she's joining forces with Fobi to make sure that the coupon of the future will work seamlessly for any retailer and all their customers.

This week, we talk to Brandi about what the new "8112" coupon standard means for the world's largest CPG companies - and how Fobi's universal data integration and wallet pass solution will help make it accessible to anyone, anywhere.

Listen to Fobi Insider - Episode 14: Reinventing the Coupon

The following is a transcript of the conversation between Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel and Brandi Johnson of The Coupon Bureau.

Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel: Coupons nowadays, isn't just your mom who's cutting out these coupons out of reply. She has them stored in that big accordion and when she goes to the grocery store, she's trying to pull them all out.

 The Coupon Bureau, Brandi JohnsonI know a lot of people don't think about coupons if they do, they chuckle, but I would say coupons, is a entire financial ecosystem in and of itself and it represents a lot of money and the coupon system and the ecosystem in the United States is the largest in the world. So it's an interesting beast. I find that people get interested in it when we start talking about it and they realize how vast it is. I was talking to large national retailer last week and they told me that through some of their data that they had received from a partner last year, coupon sales. 

So product sales that were tied to a coupon represented half a billion dollars in revenue to that retailer in a year. Reason that retailer agnostic was important is retailers have a digital solution through loyalty. But if a manufacturer CPG wants to issue direct to consumer, they don't have a digital solution. So that closed the marketing gap, so to speak for the CPGs. However, as we were building out the process for 8112 and how it would work, we realized that we were also solving for this huge fraud problem that's happening with paper coupons today. So I think that's what's brought the project a little bit more to the forefront and when you realize that there was 256 billion coupons issued last year, the market's just unbelievable.

Devon: Hey, you're listening to the Loop Experience Podcast, join us for exclusive interviews, behind the scenes updates and all things Loop. Coming at you from the Loop head office and Vancouver, I'm your host Dev.

Welcome back to the Loop Experience Podcast. Our guest today is Brandi Johnson, CEO of the Coupon Bureau. Welcome to the show, Brandi. I know our listeners are very excited to learn more about the Coupon Bureau and Loop's partnerships. I just want to welcome to the show today.

Brandi: Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here with you guys. One of my favorite teams.

Devon: Now, Brandi, I know you have a very well-established past in sales and marketing, which is great. We've got a lot to talk about there. Can you tell me more about how you got your start and factors that drove you to where you are today? 

Brandi: Sure. Sales and marketing has always been in my DNA. It's probably just because I like humans. I enjoy networking and talking to people and learning about what makes them tick or what's interesting for them in their business. As a matter of fact, when I spoke at my son's school one time about future and business, and I just said, "Start writing down right now, every person that you meet, where you met them and what they do, because truly it's those long relationships that I think have gotten me to where I am and giving me the rocket fuel to do what I need to do." Perfect example was Rob. We talked four years ago and here we are again today. So I think that that's probably been the most important thing. 

We jumped into the coupon business accidentally. My husband is a technologist and his best friend and partner in crime technologist. We started developing Facebook applications and he had a social media management company. Then we would leverage the applications that they created for our clients. We took on our first food manufacturing client, and everybody's looking around the table, like how do we do this? I guess it needs to be a coupon, but does anybody know how to do coupons? No. So from that developed a coupon platform with our tech team and took that to market. So, that's how I ended up in the wild world of coupons.

Devon: That's awesome. Actually, that's a great point. I'm going to write down that note to write down people that I meet in the future.

Brandi: Yes, everybody. It's important. You never know when you might need them or they might need you.

Devon: So before we dive into more of the coupon borough where you are now, so your husband's previous company or a company that's still operating, it was called Qples. Can you tell me a little bit more about that company and all the things that you've had to put together and really had to understand about that industry? Because I think that gave you a really great foundation to where you are now.

Brandi: It did. So I was mentioning that we needed a coupon solution for our social media client. So Jay, my husband and his partner in crime, [Ebridget 00:04:36] built out what we now, as the industry knows as Qples. They came to me and said, "Hey, we were able to build that coupon thing that you needed, but we could only make it work inside of Facebook. I'm sorry." I knew there wasn't a coupon tool that worked inside of social media. So I'm screaming and almost drove off the road so excited and they didn't really understand why I was excited, reached out to our client at the time and said, "Hey, we may have a way that we could do coupons for you inside of Facebook." She about drove off the road. So from that point forward, we realized we had a tiger by the tail.

Instead of being a social media management company, we should probably jump on this opportunity and create a coupon company. My infamous words that I still laugh about today from a decade ago, how hard can a coupon be? Very hard. There's a whole lot of components that went into it. When we jumped into the market, we didn't know anything about clearing. We didn't know how barcodes worked. I remember when I heard the term GTIN, which is a synonym for UPCs I thought it was like the letter G and the number 10 like a jet and it's not, it's G-T-I-N. So just learned just mainly through trial and error for lack of a better term, but I think that's part of what made this team that's able to do the Coupon Bureau now successful is, I jokingly and lovingly say, we're just a group of people who probably weren't smart enough to realize that we couldn't, and then we're too tenacious to quit once we did realize it. 

So we just kept trucking and that's, that's basically how Qples came to be. It's very difficult. It's been hard to leave Qples because some of our team members, founders obviously came with me here to TCB, but it really was what was best for the industry.  So that's how we got here.

Devon: I have to ask, I feel probably a lot of people ask is, were are you a big couponer before you started working in coupons?

Brandi: No. I wasn't because I truly didn't know how to find them efficiently. Then it became such a time waster that I felt I couldn't make it worth my while to do. I think that's probably how a lot of people feel, unless you're just a hardcore couponer or unless you have a really good brand relationship, meaning you're a part of their CRM. So you're getting newsletters or emails with coupons, but having to go out and find them in the wild is difficult. Really it's been interesting from a marketer standpoint that hurdle that I think a lot of shoppers have, has grown what we now know as the entire coupon blogger ecosystem. 

So a whole bunch of fantastic bloggers that go out and find the coupons aggregate them. So it's really interesting. I know a lot of people don't think about coupons if they do, they chuckle, but I would say coupons is a entire financial ecosystem in and of itself and it represents a lot of money and the coupon system and the ecosystem in the United States is the largest in the world. So it's an interesting beast and I find that people get interested in it when we start talking about it and they realize how vast it is and how many other businesses that it sparked.

Devon: Yeah. Thank you for bringing up that point because I really wanted to make sure that our listeners know that coupons nowadays, isn't just your mom who's cutting out these coupons out of-

Brandi: Her fly.

Devon: ... her fly and she has them stored in that big accordion and when she goes to the grocery store, she's trying to pull them all out. It is a game changer in the industry and it's a revenue generating stream as well too, because it encourages people to come into the store. It's tied to marketing. There's so many pieces that this ties to, and I think maybe coupons has this older connotation with the name, but really like you said, with bloggers and discount codes and all of this, it is what you're seeing it day to day now. 

Brandi: Yes. You know what? You just said about the retailer impact, it's huge. I was talking to a large national retailer last week and they told me that through some of their data that they had received from a partner last year, coupon sales. So product sales that were tied to a coupon represented half a billion dollars in revenue to that retailer in a year. So they absolutely are a win and it's a win for that retailer because that shopper can choose where they want to use those coupons. So it's free money essentially to a retailer. So I think that that it's a huge impact and when you realize that there was 256 billion coupons issued last year, the market's just unbelievable. 

Devon: That's great. I think before we get too ahead of ourselves, I want to make sure that our listeners really know who the Coupon Bureau is. So you guys are a nonprofit industry platform connecting all stakeholders to, is it what you determine the universal positive offer file? Is that something you created or is that-

Brandi: Yes.

Devon: ... an industry term?

Brandi: It is an industry term, but it is something that we as an industry created. So where the Coupon Bureau came from there was a project that started about six years ago and several of the industry associations that run the guidelines and standards and best practices as it relates to grocery coupons said, "We've got to have a retailer agnostic, mobile coupon. It doesn't exist." Digital in our industry basically just meant loyalty, and the only way that digital could happen was inside of a closed loop loyalty environment. The reason for that is all of those paper coupons are little IOUs that sit at the register and that little piece of paper is what lets the retailer know which manufacturers owe them money. So, if we take the little piece of paper out of the ecosystem and we're talking about redeeming coupons from phones, there was no little IOU solution.

So that's really what the Coupon Bureau became. We became a centralized database of all coupons, for right now, we're talking about specifically the new coupon type 8112 and then from there we also are responsible for reporting back the redemption data to all the stakeholders that touch that coupon. So we became the digital IOU version and that's essentially the role that we play in the market. We are nonprofit we wanted to be vendor agnostic. We wanted to be open for everybody to feel comfortable, to be able to play and participate, but we've created a new ecosystem of connectivity and it's very impactful for the industry for multiple reasons. One to be able to turn on this new 8112 coupon capability that is a retailer agnostic noble, reason that retailer agnostic was important is retailers have a digital solution through loyalty.

But if a manufacturer CPG wants to issue direct to consumer, they don't have a digital solution. So that closed the marketing gap, so to speak for the CPGs. However, as we were building out the process for 8112 and how it would work, we realized that we were also solving for this huge fraud problem that's happening with paper coupons today. So I think that's what's brought the project a little bit more to the forefront instead of 8112 being a new alternate coupon type, the industry now has embraced it as the coupon type of the future and that's why we're working to get retailers connected so that the old 8110 coupon type can actually be sunset.

Devon: I want to touch on something that you said there, where you talked about connectivity, cause at Loop we love the word connectivity. It's a good thing that we've focused on and also being vertical and industry agnostic as well too. I think that's something really important and that's, what's something special about what you guys are doing because you're not forcing people to follow a certain standard or implement this certain technology. You're really trying to work with their existing infrastructure and providing a solution that's helpful, not a solution that's saying, what you're doing is wrong, you need to do it this way, or you are going to miss the bus? 

Brandi: Yes. I think that that was really important for us because our team has a bunch of startup guys. So obviously we're capitalists. We're very much for pro business and growing business and we were also a coupon provider at one time. So we understood our sensitivity when we were in that role of maintaining our competitive advantage and not having some process forced on us as the only way to do things. We wanted to be able to show off our innovation, our capability. So the concept behind bureau is that it would be simple for everyone to connect. There's no fees for connection. So all the stakeholders are encouraged to participate in that way. There's no financial hurdles. Then the other thing is outside of just the standard barcode process, we didn't want to say, and here's the only data carrier that can be used because if we did, what are we programming ourselves into, into a box from the perspective of what if NFC all of a sudden becomes more readily available as a payment or a data carrier at the register.

So leaving enough flexibility to let innovators innovate. Then the other thing that I'm very passionate about, and I know that Loop is too, is we've got to get retailers specifically into the cloud. Retailers will always, and this isn't like retailers are so bad, because you're not in the cloud. It's more about you guys are going to have to keep opening the hood over and over and over until we can get that retailer point of sale capability in the cloud, because once it's there, then innovators like Loop or even TCB, we can take some of the responsibility of that innovation tech lift and leave the retailers to just enjoy the benefits. So I'm very passionate too, about this push to help retailers through our accelerator partners or other technology partners move some of those capabilities to the cloud and future-proof themselves. I think it's really important.

Devon: As we're talking about these retailers, who the companies that you're working with and what are the different industries that you're working with.

Brandi: We've been super excited just with the interest that we've had from all the various CPGs. They are passionate about this project and they're walking alongside us. They're offering content to help us get retailers connected. P&G has probably been one of our biggest assets and ambassadors and they represent about 25% of all coupons distributed in the United States. So when P&G talks people listen. So that's been super helpful. But we've just had really great conversation collaboration with most of the big boys, General Mills, Georgia Pacific, Kimberly-Clark, Unilever, you name it, they're there, Nestle. 

Across all the different categories, which I think is really important. This isn't like just a baby care initiative or just a snacks initiative. So being able to bring that variation of content to the shoppers you've probably seen articles lately that, there's no more food coupons everything's around health and beauty or baby care. So being able to reactivate some of those for the shoppers to be able to drive trial and usage, I think is really important.

Devon: I actually just want to congratulate you on that because I think that just brings validity to what you're doing and how important it is that you're getting recognition from brands like Proctor & Gamble that are looking at this company that is trying to change that is nowhere near the size of them. They've probably been trying to do that internally, but to have all of them looking at you, congratulations, that you're able to provide-

Brandi: Thank you.

Devon: ... a solution that they're really interested in.

Brandi: Thank you. It has been a labor of love. I never, in my wildest dreams thought I'd be the CEO of a nonprofit being a diehard capitalist, but I will say it's been a really cool thing and very rewarding for our entire team to look back and go. Hopefully we fixed something for an entire industry and laid the groundwork for innovation to continue to come in and drive and make things better for retailers and CPGs alike in the future. So it's been a personally rewarding thing for the team.

Devon: Now I want to talk about the 8112. So we've talked about it a little bit, but what is the elevator pitch? How can you explain to our listeners really what you guys have developed and why it's so different and so important to the industry?

Brandi: So the current application identifier, which is a GS1 designation, for coupons is 81 10. Basically it's just the four digits at the beginning of the barcode that tell the point of sale what it is. So 8110, when the point of sale sees it, it says, oh, this is a manufacturer coupon and know what to do with this. So the first thing that we needed to do was create a different designation because there's a different process, obviously. So we asked GS1 and so we now have the application identifier 8112. So you'll hear TCB type coupons referred as 8112, 8112, universal digital. So that was the first piece. The second thing that we needed to do was we needed to make sure that from a fraud perspective, we were mitigating the ability for a shopper to counterfeit or augment an actual offer. So in the 8110 format, all of the purchase requirements are baked into the data stream.

The reason that they did that is they were trying to give the point of sale, all the information it needed to then see what the purchase requirements were and check against the basket. The problem with that is, is that fraudsters, if they would only use their powers for good had decided, "Oh, we know how to break this, and we know how to augment it." So they have figured out how to go into the barcode, either adjust the purchase requirements to be off of a different product or adjust the barcode coupon value. So now instead of a $1 coupon, it's a $10 coupon. In the current process, the point of sale doesn't know any different. There's no way to validate whether or not that's true. So we needed to separate the purchase requirements from the barcode. So in 8112, all the purchase requirements live in the cloud in the positive offer file.

Then all that the barcode is, is being presented is simply a look-up code. So 8112, some basic data. That means a specific coupon in the positive offer file. Then the final thing that we did is we added mandatory sterilization. So as these coupons are delivered, the providers are appending a serial number to the back of that barcode, hopefully with the providers that references a person for attribution. But that serialized number lives in the barcode. Then whenever a coupon is presented, the point of sale says, "Oh, 8112, I need to send this to the bureau." They send us that lookup code. We open the master offer file say, is this a valid coupon first of all?

Then secondarily has this serialized number have been used before. If those things are good and true at that point, we push the purchase requirements down to the point of sale and then capture the redemption data and send that back to everyone. So I don't know what the best analogy is for bureau. I've said, we're the FDIC of coupons. I've said we're like the super highway or the ecosystem electric company. But we're basically just there to make sure that the positive offer file is supported and that that ecosystem of connectivity is available for everyone to utilize it.

Devon: I think when we talk about fraud and coupon, and I think just, we should mention the scale of this. So when I was doing research on your website, estimated that over a $100 million is lost in just coupon fraud. That's not including all the other fraud that's happening within a retailer's environment. 

Brandi: Yes.

Devon: So is this really at the forefront when you talk to your different retailers, are they worried about coupon fraud right away? Or is this something that they're like, "You know what, we don't know how to deal with it, so we pretend it doesn't exist."

Brandi: Yes. Unfortunately, that's been the approach that the entire industry has taken. I mean, everybody in the industry is passionate about fraud, but with 8110, because there isn't mandatory serialization, because the barcode can be augmented and then presented, because there's in the third party validation component, there isn't a way really to shore it up. So we just keep trying to stand something up and try to hold it up as best as we can. But that's really what the driver was for the need for 8112, a secure cloud-based real-time validated solution. But to your point, yes, we estimate about $100 million in fraud, because like you said, no one wants to talk about it. Retailers don't want to admit that it's happening. CPGs don't want to focus on it.

It's really interesting, you said the word coupon earlier when we first started talking and how it's this weird word. Unfortunately, inside of our industry, that word coupon doesn't represent money to everyone as they think about, and it is. Coupons are tender coupon is currency and so we are passionate about making sure that we mitigate that fraud. I had a national retailer tell me recently on a call that at least 5% of every coupon that they redeem is fraudulent and they know it. So I had a large CPG tell me that just in their consumer affair coupons alone. 

So these are just the ones where if you're unhappy with the product, they're going to send you a free box of whatever, right. Not their marketing initiative, just their consumer affair coupons, $30 million in loss last year from fraud. So it's a huge problem and it is at the forefront of everyone's mind. I think that that's probably been, what's helped perpetuate this project even more quickly because there is now finally a solution. The ins insight. Now it's just a matter of how quickly can we get there.

Devon: Right. Right. Is that where you look at your partnerships with different companies for Loop example, where you're now able to implement this and give them a solution that you say, "Yes, we can protect you. We have built that infrastructure," but how does it actually work in your retail store now? 

Brandi: Yes. So from the retailer's perspective, it's pretty simple. I say that now the retailers probably rolled their eyes, but it's a matter of just having that connectivity to the bureau and then the point of sale, knowing what messages we're sending back. I will tell you that when the 8110 format rolled out, it caused a lot of angst with the retailers because it required hardware updates. They had to update their actual POS hardware to be able to accept 8110 coupons. So as soon as we start talking about updates or retailers, we might as well be talking about a plague because they run they're scared. But what we tried to do was make it, no hardware required, API based, yes, there is a POS implementation or update that needs to happen. But we brought in accelerator partners who can be that bridge of connectivity between the retailer and the coupon bureau to help lighten that load.

We've got accelerator partners that are loyalty providers that are credit or gift card companies or payment companies. So they already touch the point of sale and they have some sort of cloud adjudication already. So for retailers to be able to leverage that and not have to build it out on their own, we think is one of the ways that we'll get to retell our connectivity scale more quickly. As it relates to companies like Loop, yes, we're hoping that potentially through Fobi, there's some way that Loop could be an accelerator connecting those retailers, but I get excited because I'm kind of a data geek about what Loop can do from the actual execution and implementation standpoint. 

We always, as a team had a vision where coupons would become smarter and CPGs could be more tactical and not have the spray and pray method, but a laser guided missile approach. So when you think about Loop and all those fantastic actionable insights that you guys have, being able to take that layer in an 8112 offer, or maybe even multiple offers for different values. Because you know that shopper's behavior, you can say, "We don't need to give Brandi a $1.50. She's going to buy that 12 pack of Coke. Instead, let's give her a dollar off of a different flavor she's never tried before because you guys have that and you see it. So I think the optimization of budget for the CPGs, I think being able to activate shoppers from media, I get really excited about all the innovation now that can come into the market now that we've got this ecosystem built. 

Devon: I get so excited about that too, because we look at what we're building and we're excited about what we're building. Then we work with partners like you, Brandi, and we see how passionate you are about, and both being passionate together to find a solution in two separate teams just ultimately creates that best solution, because I totally echo what you're saying there about even Loop coming into retailers, such as SOVI, as soon as you say, "Hey, we want to help you with this. We want to do an implementation there," they have so many disparate POS systems because they've acquired different companies over time, spread out. They don't want to have that major investment in capital to say, "We have to update all of our systems and all of our systems." I think that's a unique piece to what you're doing, and also how Fobi can implement with those systems as well to, to bring them up to speed, bring them to that cloud. Like you said, that cloud database or that cloud ability when they're using those older systems, that really didn't have that functionality in them before

Brandi: 100%. I know I'm probably selling a Loop commercial right now, and that's not my intention. I'm just really passionate about what you guys are doing. But Fobi to me is what the retailers have been needing and I think the larger retailers, yes, they'll understand it and there'll be able to leverage the data and insights more quickly, just because they're bigger, they've got more infrastructure, more ops to admin to be able to handle it. You think about a smaller, mid tier retailer that doesn't have any visibility into what's actually moving in their stores or what time of day or what those shopper profiles look like. The fact that you guys have both the API solution or the physical hardware solution, that to me, is the best of both worlds for them. I love that because then that helps us as TCB grow the ecosystem, which then helps you guys be able to get more data, which helps the CPGs, helps the retailers pull in those promotional dollars. It really is another word ecosystem gets used probably far too much, but it is collaborative and all ships rise truly.

Devon: Yep. I agree. And I mean, single use real-time validated coupons. It seems like such a no-brainer, let's talk a little bit about how we're delivering them and how we're potentially using Loop's wallet pass technology to carry this as a way to do digital coupons. Can you tell me a little bit more about that connection?

Brandi: Absolutely. So as you know, this has been a trial and error project because it's never been done before. You can't even look at someone's wins or losses to know how to do it better. So we're experiencing them all ourselves. So when we originally built 8112, our vision was always that these coupons could be saved into digital wallets. We actually did some work. We had some meetings with some of the device specific wallet providers. They just can't move as quickly as we are as an industry right now. So for you guys to have the wallet option, I think is phenomenal because as I'm a shopper, if that's where I go for my digital assets, it makes sense that that's where I would find my digital coupons, my digital savings. 

So what that will look like from a presentment standpoint is that shopper engages with that coupon or discovers that coupon from wherever that may be, whether that is a retailer activation maybe through Loop, based on insights or behavioral targeting, whether that's coming from CPG and their landing page or website, or an email SMS. As soon as I see that I can just hit save to wallet and manage all of them there, get to the store, open my wallet, tap, scan, beam, whatever magic happens in the wallet world and there it is. So now I'm not having to carry your grandmother's accordion along with me on every trip and holding up the 18 people that are behind me in line. So I think that we're seeing that simple elegance that couponing has needed to be more effective actually coming to fruition with solutions like Loop wallet

Devon: We're slowly moving in there, but we've talked a lot about the benefits to retailers and that is the big industry that is important to target. So that's the one that's implementing, but let's talk a little bit more about the consumer journey. We touched on it a little bit with the wallet pass, but when I go shopping and I'm at a place, how is this 8112 coupon benefiting my experience? Is there any additional benefit to the customer versus having a different type of coupon?

Brandi: Yeah. I think that's a great question. I would say that from the shopper's perspective, the way that this is going to benefit them, isn't as much in their journey outside of what I mentioned a minute ago with the simplicity of the management and presentment. I think where the shoppers really going to see the most benefit is an increase in coupons available and in a increase of higher value coupons that are more meaningful to me to get me to actually do something. The reason I'm saying that is we've had so many conversations with CPGs, large, small startups, natural, organic, you name it, whatever it is. They're saying, if you can tell me that I've got a fraud mitigated solution, I will do more coupons because right now it's scary. I can set a budget. I can set what I want my circulation to be, but that doesn't mean it's not going to go over a 100% or that doesn't mean they're not going to get copied and sent to every friend, every blogger site, whatever.

So I think us being able to have that security for the CPGs, we will see more coupons. Then knowing that it's a single use, real-time validated offer higher value. We've had some really, and I think this applies to any of the CPG categories, but specifically when you think about natural and organic, that is sometimes a burden for those companies to educate shoppers what is natural oat flour, I don't know and then how am I supposed to use it? So for them to be able to say, "Here's what it is, and here's how you can use it and here's a free offer, go out and try it because we trust that once you do, you're going to love it and keep buying it."

Free can't even happen in coupons right now. Because it's just very, as you can imagine, scary, we've seen all kinds of horror stories about executions that go crazy. So I think the shoppers will benefit from better targeted coupons. Don't send me cat food coupons. I have a dog, whatever those cases are. I have a friend of mine and he says, "I don't know why L'Oreal keeps sending me makeup. I'm not a girl." But nevertheless, so whatever those benefits are more strategically targeted, more personalized offers, higher value and then just more coupons in general.

Devon: I think that's such a great point that you made there that I hadn't thought about before. When we think about personalized promotions, it's not just personalized, based on you purchased this before, but the new experience and trying new products and I never had thought about it before, where it's so hard when you know that this customer is your target customer based on what they've purchased and you just want to get them to try something for free. You're like, "Hey, we just want you to try it. You might like it because it's everything else you like," but then you have that whole other side where you've offered this free promotion. Now somebody that maybe buys that item all the time is like, "Oh, perfect. Now there's free food. I'm already buying it." Now I'm just benefiting that person that we just wanted to get them onto board with that.

Brandi: Yes. So not having to subsidize those purchases that would have happened anyway. I think being able to take 8112 and layered into really good shopper insights is what's going to drive that, which obviously we know we can do.

Devon: The pandemic has obviously catapulted industries into this digital and contactless first solutions that I think major retailers are realizing that they're having to make this switch. So how has this supported the work that you're doing and has it given more light to the challenges that retailers are facing?

Brandi: Yes. Yes and more, yes. It's interesting in 2019 as a team Coupon Bureau was saying, part of what we're going to have to do is some major shopper education around digital and wallet and how to use these kinds of digital tools. COVID solved that for us. Just a quick example, my mother called me the second month during COVID, she lives in South Texas. She was like, "Baby, did you know that if I order my groceries on heb.com, they will deliver them to my house." I was like, "Yup, I sure do, because they've been doing it for a while." But we just saw this radical change in consumer behavior. I think had, COVID been a three, four month challenge, we would have seen it bounce back, but we've been going so long now in this new environment that we've fundamentally changed the way people shop, the way that they think about touching things or not touching things, how they want to handle payments, how they want to live in the ecom world.

So I would say as far as the pandemic, I think it's accelerated digital growth. I think the retailers went, "Oh gosh, we knew that this was a focus. We knew that we needed to get ecom better. We knew we needed these kinds of alternate solutions outside of brick and mortar." They were forced to jump there. That's a bad thing sometimes, but it's also a good thing because it can accelerate growth where sometimes maybe that technology would have lagged. The other thing that I would say is we specifically built 8112 coupons so that they can be used in brick and mortar, or the providers can offer them in an ecom shortcode. There's several ways to do that. They can either be specifically for ecom or they can offer through the consumer experience, the option. Do you want to use in store? Do you want to use online? 

The great thing about that is, it's still all the same serialized data strings. So whether that shopper uses it in ecom or whether they use it in brick and mortar, it's still kill at the till or single use dead. But I do love that and I do love the idea of 8112 being implemented in brick and mortar and ecom, and then the CPGs having that visibility to know, okay, Brandi shopped or customer one, two, three household code, whatever shops in store for all of these in our portfolio. But she always goes online for these. Why? Then start making some of those really interesting correlations and helping grow their categories or each vertical.

Devon: That's so important. That's tying that online, offline journey because as we look at true omni-channel user experiences, like you said, I may be purchasing this item online all the time, but I'm still purchasing my groceries in store. But then on the same hand, I might every once in a while purchase them online too. So you don't want to ever lose out on those little pieces because that's really understanding your customer and then being able to provide an experience to your customer that's going to be the most beneficial for them.

Brandi: Yes. I would just say one final thing about that is as we've gotten to the backside, hopefully of this we've seen and I'm sure shoppers have seen, your listeners have seen certain brand flavors, sizes disappearing. It really came from the CPGs trying to optimize, what can I get in store? What is it going to be sold in store? So I kind of see the ability for the CPGs to go, "Okay, Brandi always buys these three of our products here, but she only gets this one thing from an ecom provider, Amazon, Instacart, whatever. Why?" 

Well, it may be because that thing isn't in my store anymore. So for then I believe those buyers or the CPG groups to say, "Look at all this data, I've got all these people that are buying this particular flavor in ecom because they can't get it in store. So we need to get it back in shelf." So I think there's just a lot of, we don't normally think about coupons helping in the supply chain or sell in process as it relates to CPGs and to retailers that some of that data can also be used very specifically for that

Devon: A hundred percent. Great. Now for my last question, a little bit more of a personal one, but what's something outside of work and I'm sure you're probably so busy with this, but I'm sure you have a great work-life balance as well, but what's something outside of work that you learned during the pandemic. Maybe it's a new hobby or outlook on life that really that slower pace of removing yourself from the everyday busy stuff that you've really got to channel or focused on.

Brandi: I would say that as it relates to me just as a person personally, it's showed me how to slow down again. We're a seven person team, and so we're literally going 24/7. When you used to layer in the travel and drive into the office, I think that it's helped me slow down because there wasn't a place to go to or there wasn't an airplane to catch. That what I've learned about myself is I used to say, "Well, I have to do this and I have to do that." When I slow down and give myself time to just sit and think nobody does that anymore. You know, if you put, think time on your calendar, everybody's like, "Yeah, she's taking a nap. She's going to get her nails done." But literally just sit and think I can be so much more effective as a team member or as a partner, if I just give myself that. So I think that's been really impactful for me. 

Then the other thing, and it kind of goes back to what we started with is it's relationships. I had a conversation with my son and he was like, "Mom, I need you to slow down and spend more time with family." In the first year I was like, "But baby, I'm going to be able to be done because this isn't going to take long." It was just so ridiculous. That's about like, how hard can a coupon be? But then I started hearing him and him saying, "Yes, that is important and yes, we want you to win, but we also need you to be winning at home." So for as much value as I put on my relationships at work and networking, I got to make sure that I'm not just abandoning or not giving the same positive happy me, energetic me that I give on a call to a client. 

I want my family to get to see that too. I think for all of us, especially pre pandemic, we'd say I'm so busy. I'm sorry. I'm so busy. Everybody's busy, but nobody cares that you're busy if they want time with you, they just want time with you. So I think that's important.

Devon: Yeah. That is super important. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. Our listeners-

Brandi: It was my pleasure.

Devon: Oh, yeah. Our listeners, I'm sure are just so excited about this partnership as are we at Loop. I know there's going to be a lot of great things that come out of this partnership, so thank again. 

Brandi: Yes. Yes. I'd love to come back and us talk about all the beautiful use cases that we've got in the works in a few months. 

Dev: I'm so excited for that. We'll have you on again. 

Brandi: Perfect. Thanks so much for having me, Dev.

Click here for all episodes of the official podcast of Fobi: ‘Fobi Insider' (Previously Loop Experience).

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