Site Targets Offers to Household Level

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E-Save Network Inc. launches a rebate site today that delivers offers customized to the household level.


e-Save.com will collect data and product-consumption details from customers who shop offline and online and register at e-Save for rebates on products they purchase.


"It's a membership organization, which means that we can capture a substantial amount of data over time where we can see market-basket data and historical patterns with these people," said Steve Marcus, president/CEO at e-Save Network, Harrison, NY.


Since its subdued December beta launch, e-Save has gained 10,000 registrants. E-Save's year-end goal is 1 million members.


Coupons and rebates are increasingly becoming popular with online consumers. While the offline redemption rate is about 1.3 percent, the rate online is as high as 10 percent, Marcus said.


Marcus expects 100 million rebates to be redeemed online industrywide, valued at about $1 billion.


Two-thirds of e-Save's registrants are women. The site has been kept simple. A consumer can browse through product offers without upfront registration or software downloads. After selecting rebate offers, the consumer is asked for mandatory data such as name, e-mail address and home address. The consumer has the option of volunteering information on home and car ownership, pets and children.


Once this data is provided, the consumer can print out a shopping list with a tracking number, which is mailed to e-Save along with the store receipt for the product. A check, with a pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope, stuffed with coupons to continue the redemption cycle, is promised in two weeks - as opposed to the offline time-table of 8 to 10 weeks.


There are about 160 rebate offers on the site, but the plan is to have 500 to 1,000 within a year. Starting with package goods like groceries, e-Save will soon expand to rebates on apparel, office supplies, electronics and home healthcare.


Manufacturers such as Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, ConAgra, Haines, Church & Dwight, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive Co. are among the key participants in this program and have agreed to put cash upfront. Innovative Fulfillment Systems, Leola, PA, is e-Save's fulfillment house.


"We charge the manufacturer a processing fee - 75 cents on a cost-per-actual-redemption basis - for each rebate redeemed," Marcus said.


e-Save encourages continuity with consumers through customized offers that reward heavy redeemers, while modifying offers depending on household demographics.


e-Save's patent-pending technology enables it to avoid repeated redemption of the same offers. This prevents churning, consumer movement from brand to brand just to use rebates or coupons. Marcus said this creates category exclusivity for manufacturers.


Moreover, e-Save seeks to avoid the frauds associated with coupons by requiring consumers to mail rebates rather than redeem them at stores.


"What e-Save has done is attacked the fraud issue pretty head-on," said Marissa Gluck, analyst at Jupiter Communications, New York. "The other thing that they have done is taken a consumer-centric approach to it. Rather than going up to the cashier and getting 10 cents or 40 cents off, they are the ones cutting the checks."


An online tracking system allows consumers to check the status of rebates, including when the check was cut, its number, amount and the items on the check.


As for manufacturers, e-Save's online data reporting facility gives them information within 24 hours on product redemptions by demographic or any which way they want the cloth cut. In the traditional world, manufacturers wait between one and two months for this data to trickle in.


"We have the ability to isolate the lowest-maintenance, lowest-cost household to hold on or the highest consuming households," Marcus said. "We also maintain complete privacy for these households. The manufacturers get the information on an aggregate basis [but] we keep that individual detailed information."
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