Endemic discounting is only a short-term option in the bid to woo today's price sensitive consumer. If brands and retailers want to retain the key middle England customer base then they need to be far more savvy.

With consumers now far more price-sensitive across the board, there has been a significant move towards Aldi, Lidl and Netto, and consumers are increasingly adopting discount over luxury goods . However, while this shift in behaviour may appear to represent a real threat for fmcg and retail brands, it also represents an opportunity for savvy marketers to look deeper into how they can exploit today's economic trends.

Tougher economic conditions are typically associated with decreasing sales, but consumption does not stop in a recession - consumers still need to purchase essential goods, they are just more conscious of promotions and spend longer evaluating purchasing decisions.

The impact of this changing behaviour can be seen on the high street as retailers embark upon significant price-based competition in a bid to win new customers or stop the steady erosion of the existing consumer base. But reactive, tactical retailer discounting alone cannot be a long-term solution; organisations must look at new ways of achieving strong customer engagement.

There is already a clear trend towards online marketing . Organisations including Unilever, Mars, Colgate, Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Ocean Spray have recently turned a lot of their attention and marketing spend towards combining online brand experiential campaigns with internet printable coupons to satisfy the need to improve customer retention and generate measurable incremental sales.

However, if organisations are to use coupons , offers need to reflect the fast-changing behaviour. Internet coupons are providing a highly effective route to the newly cost-conscious public. However, to be effective, the focus must remain on customer engagement, not just discounting. By targeting this audience with relevant coupons, organisations can reinforce brand value and loyalty.

Jared Keen is MD of Couponstar.