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Best of 2014: Digital Coupons Leading Overall Rate of Coupon Growth

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Consumers are increasingly comfortable redeeming digital coupons they access online as well as printing coupons from the web, according to a recent report by coupon technology company Inmar.

Some 329 billion coupons for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) – including both traditional, paper coupons and digital, paperless coupons – were distributed in the U.S. in 2013. Of the coupons distributed, roughly 40% were for food products and 60% for non-food products.

The preferred method of distribution for marketers – and the most popular method for redemption by consumers – continues to be Free-standing Inserts (FSIs).  FSIs represented 87.3% of all coupons distributed in 2013 and accounted for 41% of all redeemed coupons. According to the Inmar 2014 Shopper Behavior Study, 49% of shoppers regularly use FSI coupons – making them the most frequently used method among shoppers (when ranked against the other discovery/acquisition methods). In terms of redeemed offer count, more than one billion of the 2.9 billion coupons redeemed in 2013 were FSIs.

At the same time, digital coupons – enabling more “personalized promotion” and deployed by marketers with enhanced targeting – continued to grow ahead of the overall rate of coupon growth and, consequently, increased their share of redemption. These are coupons that consumers load directly to their shopper loyalty accounts from retailer and publisher websites, as well as other locations. With no paper involved, these offers are applied automatically at checkout and discounts instantly credited when the shopper presents their loyalty card or unique individual identifier.

In 2013, more than 66 million digital coupons were redeemed industry-wide according to Inmar estimates – a 141% increase over 2012.  In addition to digital coupons, 5.2% of coupons redeemed were obtained and printed out by consumers online, Inmar says. That’s an increase from 4.6% in 2012 and 1.0% in 2008, according to earlier studies by the company.

“Our latest shopper survey results confirm that coupons remain popular with consumers,” says Inmar CEO David Mounts. “With 96% of shoppers we spoke to telling us they used coupons in 2013, there’s no question as to their importance as a marketing tool.” Adds Mounts, “However, as shopper behavior continues to change and ‘offer expectations’ continue to increase, advertisers must employ holistic engagement strategies that deliver both mass distributed offers for reach, as well as relevant, targeted content through both traditional and digital methods. More than ever, effectively delivering value into the marketplace requires the careful and consistent application of consumer-centric analytics.”

Responding to market conditions, advertisers are making offers more attractive and easier for consumers to redeem. While the average face value of distributed coupons declined slightly in 2013 (down 0.6% to $1.56), the average face value of redeemed coupons grew significantly (up 12.4% to $1.27). Consumers responded to offers they found compelling – motivated to action, in large part, by the face value of the offer.

[Source:  “Inmar 2014 Shopper Behavior Study.”  Inmar.  15 Jan. 2014.  Web.  17 Jan. 2014.]