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Coupon talk, for marketers, boils down to distribution and redemption, product trial, continuity and loading. So it’s encouraging that despite coupon distribution stagnating in recent years, coupon redemption has skyrocketed. In 2011, 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed in the United States. According to a recent report from Inmar, 2011 coupon redemption rates were up 6.1% from the previous year; since 2006, coupon redemption has increased 34.6%. Another study from Coupons.org claims 2011 saw a 63% surge in coupon use. Internet access and smartphone use are partly responsible, but so is the changing face of the coupon clipper. Coupons.org found that households earning $100,000 or more are twice as likely to use coupons as households earning less than $35,000. Similarly, college graduates are more likely to use coupons than high-school dropouts. Statistics such as these make a strong argument for the role smartphone technology and mobile apps play in coupon distribution. But the ways coupons reach consumers sans smartphone have increased, as well. FSIs are still the leading method of coupon distribution, but in terms of redemption, Inmar found FSIs account for 43.9% of coupons redeemed. In-store coupons and electronic checkout are making waves, and so is the consumer’s ability to print deals from home.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems that while discounts will forever change, with coupons “the deal” remains the same: everybody loves a bargain, no matter how it’s delivered.
With that, here are 5 reasons coupons still matter:
1. Saving face — Along with the aforementioned shift in the demographics of coupon clippers comes with another realization: thriftiness is no longer taboo. “Because of the current economic situation, consumers have to be smarter when they’re shopping,” says Vertical Marketing Network Senior Account Director Nicco Mouleart. “Part of that is looking for deals, and taking advantage of deals that are available.”
2. Strength in numbers — Direct mail, electronic checkout, electronic shelf, handout, in-ad, in-pack, instant redeemable… The list goes on and on as to ways to connect to the consumer in-person. Add online and mobile access, and you get a sense that the possibilities are endless.
3. The online rise — 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed in the United States last year, up 6.1% from 2010. Since before the recession, online coupon use has increased by 360%.
4. Food still delivers — While coupons distributed for non-food items (186 billion) outnumber those for food items (approximately 125 billion), coupons for food see more redemption. FSIs are the leading distribution method for both categories.
5. “Click” is the new “clip” — In 2011, one in five smartphone users used mobile coupons — more than twice the percentage from the previous year.
While shifting demographics and more methods for delivery — both online and off — help keep coupons relevant to consumers, marketers will be challenged to create exciting and enticing promotions.