The Evolving Coupon

With a slowly recovering economy allowing consumers to open their wallets again, there’s a lot of chatter about the state of the coupon. Consider this bit from an article on Today.com.

One study, from coupon industry consulting firm Inmar, found that about 3 billion coupons were redeemed in 2012, a drop of about 14.3 percent from approximately 3.5 billion coupons redeemed in 2011. Another, from NCH Marketing Services, found that coupon use fell by 17 percent in 2012 over the year before.

That might lead you to believe that society is moving away from looking for savings opportunities.

As football prognosticator Lee Corso would say, not so fast, my friends.There’s an important distinction to be made that should illustrate what’s really happening in the world of merchant coupons. The survey focused on Consumer Packaged Goods coupons, which are mostly redeemed at grocery stores and delivered through newspaper inserts and mailers. This is an area we expect to see major declines in as the buying power of younger, more technologically oriented generations begin to throw their weight around. 2012 also saw a crackdown on “extreme couponing,” wherein many grocery stores clamped down on previously generous coupon policies.

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From the Inmar press release (emphasis ours):

Consumer interest in coupons is extraordinarily high, particularly among new/emerging coupon user profiles including millennials, young adults and men. These groups are seeking out discounts more than ever, and they have more tools at their disposal for discovering them. These emerging multi-channel shoppers will bring a whole new era of insight-driven activation.

See where we’re heading with this? Coupons aren’t going away, they’re changing. Specifically, they’re moving to your phone. Mobile coupons require no advance planning or scissors, and for the three growth profiles mentioned above – millenials, young adults and men - there’s far less stigma in showing a phone than a printed coupon.

These surveys are probably best paired with this one from Juniper Research:

The number of discount coupons redeemed through mobile and tablet devices is expected to reach 10 billion this year, up by more than 50% on last year…

In other words, the amount of mobile coupons – which haven’t quite caught on in CPG yet, but are prominent among restaurants and retailers – redeemed this year will triple the amount of traditional coupons redeemed.

We’ve been constantly beating a drum on this topic, but this is just more evidence that mobile coupons are where the world is heading.

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Topics: Mobile Coupons, Access Development, customer loyalty

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter

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