In 1888, Coca-Cola distributed thousands of coupons in magazines and direct mail for a complimentary glass of coke. This is widely believed as the first coupon ever.
Coupons have grown ever since. Thousands of businesses are offering discounts and free gifts to consumers around the world, helping them save billions of dollars each year. Its popularity gave rise to coupon giants like Groupon and a handful of other niche coupon services in the last decade.
From a marketing perspective, coupons might be a viable tool to help you drive sales and bring in new customers. Let's dive in and see how consumers view and use coupons.
Coupon usage by demographics
In a recent study completed by Valassis, 90% of Americans use coupons when shopping.
Valassis separated participants into 3 age groups:
Generation X (1965-1981)
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
From 2016 to 2017, both Baby Boomers and Generation X saw a slight decrease in coupon usage. Baby Boomers dropped from 90% to 89% while Generation X dropped from 92% to 90%. Millennials are the only group that saw an increase from 88% to 94%.
Coupon Frequency (%)
When it comes to frequency of usage, the results are very positive. 36% of respondents find themselves using coupons “sometimes”, 28% use them “very often”, and 15% “always” use them.
If your business is not the type to offer discounts or coupons, offer something similar to attract new business. For example, Starbucks and Sephora celebrate their customer's birthday by offering a free in-store gift.
Coupon use by media type
According to the report, most respondents relied primarily on print coupons that came from traditional sources like mail, newspapers, and coupon books.
Print vs Digital Coupons (%)
Print coupons used more than digital coupons. 88% of respondents said they used print coupons; only 71% of respondents used digital coupons. This gap is attributed to the lower adoption rate among Generation X and Baby Boomers.
However, when asked about preferred sources of coupons and discounts, "I prefer discounts on my smartphone/mobile device" saw the highest growth from 24% to 32% year on year. Because a majority of Millennials own a mobile device, it's not a surprise to see this increase.
It'll be interesting to see how much digital coupons grow as Millennials and post-millennials gain more and more spending power.
Finding coupons and discounts
According to the report, 35% of shoppers increased their use of internet to find coupons. This includes retailer websites, manufacturer / brand websites, coupon websites, search engines, links from saving sites / blogs, and social networking websites.
The growth of coupon research is mainly online. From a strategic point, distributing coupons on your website may be a viable option to help you grow your list of subscribers and customers.
Coupons and impact on purchase decisions
If a business wants to influence a consumer's purchase decision, they'll need to get their attention from the very beginning of the process.
Compared to your shopping list, how similar is the list to what you actually buy?
Before going to the store, consumers research and decide what to buy. More than 90% of respondents create a list before shopping and 84% of them use coupons to help them decide. Depending on the coupons available, consumers are willing to switch stores to take advantage of good deals.
They don't often stray far away from the list they've created. Most respondents end up with purchases similar to their list (59%); some end up with half-and-half (17%); and the rest end up with exactly the same (17%).
Coupons are also an important tool to get consumers to try out new products. 86% of consumers have said that coupons influenced them to try a new product.
Most consumers that deviate from their shopping list do it because of an in-store deal. Based on all the respondents, 86% of them make a purchase based on an in-store discount.
While shopping, 55% of respondents also look for coupons or discounts on their mobile device. It's also reported that 51% of respondents make purchase decisions based on a mobile notification at the store.
Since many people often carry their mobile devices wherever they go, this presents an opportunity for businesses to increase sales by sending their customers mobile coupons.
According to the report, 51% of respondents use mobile savings app (grocery store savings app, drug store savings app, mass merchandiser or supercentre savings app). This is up from 38% from the previous year.
Businesses can use the back of their receipts to promote shareable coupons. Consumers can share coupons with their friends and family, creating a viral effect that may help drive more customers to your business. They're willing to share about their savings with family and friends and encourage them to also take advantage of it. Among mobile coupon users, 79% do so, reports Valassis.
Although paper coupons remain supreme, digital coupons are becoming more popular among the younger generations. SMS may be a viable marketing tool to reach them. Use it to promote flash sales and giveaways and encourage your customers to change their shopping habits.