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Should Brands Use Couponing More Now Than Ever Before?

September is National Coupon Month.

Coupons can be clipped, but they can also be clicked. Consumers are finding nontraditional ways to stretch their dollar on-the-go

Believed to be the first coupon ever, this ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola was first distributed in 1888 to help promote the drink. By 1913, the company had redeemed 8.5 million tickets

Believed to be the first coupon ever, this ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola was first distributed in 1888 to help promote the drink. By 1913, the company had redeemed 8.5 million tickets

Digital coupons, coupon apps, coupons on your smartphone that you can bring up at whim…it’s not your mother’s way of couponing anymore! The way consumers can interact with brands and access coupons today has exploded. Now this tried and true marketing tactic is more popular than ever, with over 2.8 billion coupons redeemed by consumers in the U.S. in 2013. FSI coupons still dominate, but digital coupons have quickly gained mainstream acceptance . Digital coupons are exploding in popularity: 66 million redeemed in 2013 – a 141 percent increase over 2012. So the question today is not “to coupon or not to coupon” but rather, how to creatively utilize couponing as a marketing tactic to drive brand awareness, purchase and build brand equity?

Mobile devices drive increase in coupon use
The increasing availability of coupons through our mobile devices makes it simple for people from all walks of life to “coupon” on their own time, in their own way. It’s no longer a matter of waiting with scissors in hand for the Sunday circular in the hope that there’s a coupon for that product you really want. Now, a quick visit to a site like, SavingStar, or RedPlum will let you know what’s out there. In fact, you don’t even need to go online to find out. You can be at a store, spot an item you need, and just scan its bar code with your mobile phone. You’ll know within seconds if there is a coupon for it. Then simply have the cashier scan the coupon code that appears on your phone.


Marketing research site eMarketer says that the number of people who redeem such coupons will increase 11% this year. The same study says mobile plays the largest part in this increase: more than 28% of people who own a mobile device redeemed a coupon in 2013. More than one-third of all smartphone users in 2014 will use a coupon obtained via app, mobile Internet, or mobile barcode. 59% consumers state that out of all the different types of promotions, digital coupons sway them the most when it comes to influencing a purchase decision (RetailMeNot).

The way people use coupons is evolving. Couponing as a brand marketing tactic is evolving as well
Contrary to old-school thought that couponing diminishes the value of a brand for a short term gain, evidence is clear that people like and appreciate coupons. Consumers have a better impression of the brands that provide coupons: 68% strongly believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a brand (RetailMeNot).

“The fact of the matter is that research studies have proven time and time again that consumer promotions with a coupon centerpiece that are well thought-out and creatively designed, build repeat sales and brand equity,” says Phil Saifer, President of Vertical Marketing Network, a leading integrated marketing agency. “The ROI is always higher with coupons versus temporary price reductions at shelf or similar trade promotions. And when utilized in an integrated communications strategy with mass reach vehicles, we have an excellent platform to tell a brand’s value story to a consumer.”

Companies are increasingly turning to social media sites as a vehicle to distribute coupons

Companies are increasingly turning to social media sites as a vehicle to distribute coupons

The inventive way brands are using coupons in their marketing mix bears this out: brands now regularly offer special promotions on their Facebook pages and tweet out shareable coupons that can be downloaded, printed out and redeemed at brick-and-mortar stores. Websites offer digital coupons to use with their products at checkout.

Brands have developed creative ways to incorporate coupons into their marketing mix. The Six Flags Amusement Parks and Coca Cola partnership is a great example: Coke cans are imprinted with a special discount code. When the thrill seeker brings the empty can to a Six Flags park, the coupon is redeemed for a substantial discount: up to $20 off a regularly priced ticket. In exchange, Coke is included in Six Flag’s radio and TV ads. By joining forces, they’ve created a win-win-win situation: a win for Six Flags, a win for Coke, and, of course, a win for the guy who can’t wait to scream his lungs out on the latest and greatest roller coaster. Another company using coupons in a new way is A “thank you” digital coupon is emailed to customers after every purchase, both to show customers how much they are appreciated and to build loyalty. Customer love this!

Hispanic women are increasingly turning to mobile coupon apps to save money on their grocery bills

Hispanic women are increasingly turning to mobile coupon apps to save money on their grocery bills

So who actually uses coupons?
Despite the fallacies that coupons are only really used by the poor and elderly or not used by the growing Hispanic population, the fact is that coupons are extremely popular with the more affluent consumers, millennials and all population bases including Hispanics. Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to use coupons as those earning less than $35,000. College degree holders are also twice as likely to use coupons as those who did not graduate from high school. ( via CNBC). Millennials are using coupons more than their parents: according to a Valassis study, 96% of millennials use coupons. Teens are following the trend: 56% of 13-17 year olds use coupons or coupon codes (RedPlum). And U.S. Hispanics have a higher usage rate of digital coupons than the general population (Valassis).

Americans love getting a great deal! They appreciate the brands that provide greater value to them in the form of coupon promotions. Combined with consumers’ ever-faster adoption of technology, this has made couponing more important than ever.

So what successful couponing strategies has your brand used? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments section below. Meantime, here are 20 compelling couponing factoids to inspire further thought:

  1. 92% of consumers use coupons, 60% use printable coupons (RetailMeNot)
  2. 81% of consumers use coupons regularly (NCH)
  3. 35% use coupons more than 50 times a year (TSYS)
  4. 55% of US internet users 18 and older will redeem digital coupons or codes in 2014 (eMarketer)
  5. 83% have made an unplanned purchase based on a promotion/coupon (Market Track)
  6. 80% agree that digital coupons “close the deal” for them when undecided on a purchase (RetailMeNot)
  7. 73% of holiday purchases are influenced by coupons and promotions (Deloitte)
  8. 74% of U.S. adult online shoppers with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more use online coupons, compared with 59% of those under $35,000 (com)
  9. 64% of those making $150k or more use coupons 30+ times a year, 67% of those making $100k to $149 use 30+ yearly (TSYS)
  10. 93% expect to continue spending cautiously even when the economy improves (Deloitte)
  11. 81% of consumers find it fun to see how much they can save with coupons or loyalty cards (Deloitte)
  12. 80% of shoppers say that using coupons makes them feel smarter (Inmar)
  13. 64% said a digital promotion or a coupon closes the deal if they are wavering or undecided on making a purchase (RetailMeNot)
  14. 60% of consumers feel that shopping is competitive and getting a better price than others makes them feel like winners (Yahoo!)
  15. How mothers find coupons: Print (78%), circulars (65%), digital (55%) (WomensForum)
  16. Top sources of coupons: Newspaper, online, store circulars (TSYS)
  17. 70% want coupons emailed to them for products they normally buy (Inmar)
  18. 57% of US online users have printed a coupon from a website (org)
  19. 91% of desktop users redeem a digital coupon within several days (RetailMeNot)
  20. 94% of people follow brands on Twitter to receive deals and offers (Compete)


Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.

Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.

6 comments on “Should Brands Use Couponing More Now Than Ever Before?

  1. Pingback: Mobile Devices Drive the Use of Maturing Speech Technology | Herpes Survival Kit

  2. Kim Haman
    September 12, 2014

    Hi Shannon! Thank you for stopping by!

    I totally get what you’re saying–about both coupons AND shopping bags! 🙂

    People are so busy these days; unless you’re really focused on it, it’s hard to remember to bring your coupon wallet with you every time you shop–especially since so many people “stop at the store” on their way home. Who’s going to carry their clipped coupons with them all the time? Mobile coupons solved that problem. We ALWAYS have our phones with us. I’m glad manufacturers are using mobile devises more to deliver discounts.

    Have a great day!


  3. jeffs zen garden
    September 11, 2014

    Great and informative article, but I am disappointed that there is no coupon to redeem at the bottom! In spite of the fact that I have designed hundreds of coupons over my many years in marketing, I must confess that I was never much of a coupon redeemer until the last few years. I have totally embraced my “VONS Just For You” mobile app.They push out weekly updates, they are totally on top of my buying habits and my phone is giving me excellent intel at the point of sale on every aisle in the store. FSI’s may still dominate for the moment, but their days of analog clipping are numbered.


    • Kim Haman
      September 12, 2014

      Hi Jeffs Zen garden!
      What a great idea! I which I HAD thought to put a coupon at the end of the blog 🙂 !
      I’m with you: I wasn’t much of a coupon user until they became more widely available with my mobile phone. Now, it’s really cool to be able to pull up a coupon for what you want instantly, without having to dig through your coupon wallet to find the one you’re looking for.

      I also love that you can scan an item code at a store and instantly find out if it is less expensive somewhere else. That doesn’t mean I’ll drive across town to save a few cents, but I have found that stores will price match when they see their competitors price on the same item.

      Thanks for your input! Have an awesome day!


      • jeffs zen garden
        September 12, 2014

        See Kim, that’s why I’m the Senior Creative Director at Vertical Marketing Network!

        Another thing I love about the VONS app is that when I see the Just For You label on the shelf, I merely scan it in on my phone and the discount is instantly added to my card at check out. In reality, I don’t know how much of this is actual value as opposed to perceived value, but it feels good.

        I still enjoy getting my monthly COSTCO coupon book in the mail. I shows me all the great stuff I’ve got to have but didn’t know I needed!


  4. Shannon Murphy
    September 10, 2014

    Great article! I’m using coupons more and more, but since I tend to forget to take clipped ones with me when I shop (the other item I routinely forget is shopping bags), the digital coupons are the ones that get used the most. Now I know where to find more of them.


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