The Second Annual Benchmark Survey on Consumer Coupon Behavior, conducted by HarrisInteractive for RetailMeNot, found that the use of coupon websites is on the rise, most notably among the highest education and income brackets. In addition, the survey found that coupons are the deciding factor in the purchases of a growing number of consumers. The survey, which polled 2,175 online adults 18+ within the United States, measured trends in online shopping and coupon usage. Consumer Spending logo

The survey found that consumers are continuing to spend less in the current economy. Nearly half of online adults (45%) plan to spend less money on gifts this holiday season compared to last holiday season, the same percentage as in 2008, indicating a consistent, significant downward trend in spending. To save money, 62% of online adults look for coupons for online stores, and 12% never make a purchase without checking an online coupon website first, a notable jump from 8% last year.

“Consumers are more aware of their spending than ever and are very active in trying to find the best deals. Coupon websites are still growing rapidly in popularity, with nearly two-thirds of consumers checking for coupons when they shop online,” said Guy King, co-founder of RetailMeNot.com. “As a result, we are seeing more and more merchants embracing coupons as a way to connect with their budget-conscious shoppers. Clearly, retailers that don’t offer discounts not only jeopardize customer loyalty but could take a significant hit to the bottom line, especially as we head into the holiday season.”

Among the key findings, the survey revealed that in the current economic environment, coupon use is on the rise across nearly all demographics, but is highest among the employed and educated (college graduated):

  • 29% of college graduates use coupon websites to find good deals, compared to 24% of those with some college and 20% of those with an education level of high school or less; in 2008, these numbers were 23%, 20% and 20% respectively
  • 27% of online adults that work full time or are self-employed use coupon websites (up from 22%); 22% of online adults that are unemployed use coupon websites (up from 18%); 25% of students use coupon websites (up from 23%); 18% of retired online adults use coupon websites (up from 14%)

Consumers are increasingly defining their spending habits by whether or not retailers offer coupons:

  • 30% of online adults will not make a purchase at an online store if they can’t find a coupon for that store, up from 27% in 2008
  • 22% of online adults will go to a different store to make that purchase, up from 20% in 2008, while 8% will wait until a coupon is available to make the purchase (same in 2008)

Large families and homes with children are also one of the fastest growing demographics to use coupon websites:

  • 30% of online adults in households with children use coupon websites (up from 24% in 2008); only 22% of online adults in households with no children use coupon websites (up from 20%)
  • 31% of online adults in households of five or more use coupons (up from 15%); only 15% of online adults that live alone use coupon websites (down from 17%)

Additional findings include:

  • 40% of online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online in the Midwest use coupon websites, compared to 35% in the Northeast, 34% in the South and 29% in the West
  • The largest age group to use coupon websites is 35-44, with 41% of these online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online, including 47% of these women and 34% of these men, using coupon websites
  • Married online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online, are significantly more likely to use coupon websites, at 39% compared to 29% of these single or never married online adults and 21% of these divorced online adults

In this survey, “online adults” refers to 2,175 adults ages 18+, 1,880 whom are online shoppers.

“Second Annual Benchmark Survey on Consumer Coupon Behavior,” conducted by HarrisInteractive for RetailMeNot,September 29, 2009.  Website: www.retailmenot.com; www.harrisinteractive.com.