Promo Giant Valassis Revises Web Strategy, Will Use FSIs To Promote New RedPlum Site

Valassis plans to introduce RedPlum and retire the ShopWise name in a rebranding campaign that begins in January. The company will rely primarily on its own marketing methods, ranging from free-standing inserts and polybags to direct mail packaging.

On Jan. 3, it will sweeten the deal by moving into online marketing with RedPlum.com, an interactive destination aimed at sparking consumer attention with valuable savings and special deals from Pillsbury, Cheerios and Betty Crocker. A special section from consumer electronics companies will launch in March.

The site aims to provide consumers with shopping deals covering all aspects of life, says Brian Costello, GM/interactive at Valassis. "We're trying to find good deals we think you'll like, and provide marketers with another way to go out and tell consumers what's going on," he says.

RedPlum.com launches next month with a $5,000 giveaway, awarded to one person in April. Consumers are required to register on the site to enter sweepstakes and contests or get free samples, but are not asked to cough up information to access advertised specials, product information and coupons.

Special deals for registered members will grace the pages across the site. And, while Costello vows to keep consumer information private, he suggests checking a brand's privacy policy before entering a contest.

Consumers will find site features and functions that make searching for information and deals simple and fast. It's geared toward busy women ages 28 to 48, with an average annual household income between $60,000 and $80,000.

At launch, RedPlum.com will support between 40,000 and 50,000 items. Costello estimates within a few months that number will more than triple as products are added. The search function allows consumers to locate new or similar products by ZIP code, brand name, category, and more.

The items are broken down by category, such as "Local Deals," which features deals on oil changes and personal services at salons. "Dining Out" lists discounts for dining out locally. "Grocery" coupons will break down into vegetarian, organic and kosher. "Home and Yard" includes furnishings, hardware, garden and appliances.

The site focuses on more than coupons and discounts. The SweetFinds daily feature at launch will highlight ZipLock Streamer bags. In the "Lifestyle" category, consumers can find editorials, where staff writers compose "spiffy and short" clips on fashion and beauty. The site also serves up information about entertainment and local events. A deal between Valassis and movietickets.com lets consumers find movies at their local theaters, watch trailers and buy tickets at a dual-branded microsite.

RedPlum.com, built with widgets, relies on continual data feeds from databases that populate information into subcategories. Groceries, for example, include grains and dairy. Every product, deal and offer on the site has its own URL, so consumers can share and e-mail product information from the site.

For those who want to opt-in, RedPlum will offer a cell phone feature later this year, where consumers get information on the go. There are difficulties with mobile campaigns, Costello says. "The problem isn't sending information to the phone, but rather the process to teach consumers what to do with it when they get it," he says.

Through RedPlum services, the site offers another way for marketers to reach 90% of all U.S. households--more than 100 million consumers per week.

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