According to new research from NCH Marketing, $470 billion of coupon value was offered by consumer package goods (CPG) marketers to U.S. consumers in 2011, a 26% increase over the pre-recession period of 2007. Value-conscious shoppers responded by redeeming $4.6 billion in savings, an increase of 12.2% over the year prior, and 58.6% higher than five years ago. During 2011, 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed, up 6.1% from 2010, and 34.6% since 2007.

Overall, the average face value offered remained flat at $1.54 in 2011, with Grocery cutting three cents off the average value to $1.17 and HBC offering $2.09. Despite the lower average face value being offered on Grocery coupons, consumers redeemed slightly more of the higher value coupons available. The HBC average face value redeemed was $1.83, up 6.4%.

The last three years represent the highest annual volumes of coupons distributed since the pre-recession period. In 2011, across all types of CPG products, 305 billion coupons were distributed in the U.S., representing a decrease of 8.1% from 2010, a record-setting year for distribution. The decline, however, was entirely attributed to 13.1% fewer coupons distributed in the Grocery segment. Overall, 2011 distribution volume is comparatively very strong to 2007 with 20 billion more coupons (+7%) available to consumers.

COUPON FORMATS

Overall in 2011, 89.4% of all coupons were distributed via Free Standing Insert (FSI) formats, including co-op, solo, and shared mail. With fewer total coupons offered, and strong consumer responsiveness, redemption rates for FSI coupons increased 11.1% on average for Grocery coupons and 25.0% for HBC. Digital coupons, as the newest media choice for marketers to reach consumers, grew with 11% more print at home and paperless offers distributed and tracked on NCH’s database; yet, the total quantity of coupons in these growing formats doesn’t yet exceed 1% of all coupons distributed in the U.S.

In total, consumers saved $500 million more in 2011, a healthy increase in redemption cost for marketers. The report estimates that 76% more products were sold with coupons over the course of recent changes in consumer behavior since 2007, which is providing a more positive return on investment for CPG companies from their consumer promotion budget increases.

COUPON TRENDS IN 2012

The report predicts that 2012 and forward is expected to continue to be very different than the past, and therefore challenging for marketers to navigate. With slow economic growth and unemployment recovery, and consumer shopping behavior that has been forever impacted by the recession, marketers would be wise to monitor consumer responsiveness closely while maintaining levels of promotional incentives that will ensure the demand for value is satisfied in a highly competitive environment.

[Source: “Coupon Facts.”  NCH Marketing.  January 2012.  Web.  23 Feb. 2012.]