Which Product was the First to Offer a Coupon in the U.S., and How it's Helping Pandemic Commerce

BY Kathy Crosett
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It’s no secret the restaurant industry’s losses during the COVID-​19 pandemic have been the grocery industry’s gain. The average weekly grocery spending in U.S. households has increased 16% this year and consumers have shown their coupon love during the pandemic. The details in the Chasing Value: The Mind of the Modern Shopper report from Valassis reveal that while consumers are spending more at the grocery store, 70% are also looking for deals. They’re not sure if or when they might lose their jobs. And it's appropriate that they're turning to coupons. Which product was the first to offer a coupon in the U.S.? Coca-​Cola. Once that iconic refreshment found in nearly every grocery store offered the first-​ever coupon for a free sample, the concept took off.

The other great stressors for many consumers are trying to keep family members healthy and trying to manage multiple roles, ranging from tutor to work-​from-​home employee to spouse. These changes impact the shopping behaviors of consumers.

It Doesn't Matter Which Product was the First to Offer a Coupon in the U.S., What Matters is How They Drive Consumers

The Desire to Save Time and Money

By age group, millennials, 80%, more than any others, want to save time and money when they’re shopping. 66% of millennials report that family and work demands make it difficult for them to complete all of their tasks on a daily basis.

Stores can help consumers and boost sales by promoting discounts online and through coupons. As consumers seek ways to stretch their grocery budgets, 60% are using either paper or paperless coupons. That’s a big jump from the 53% who used coupons in 2019.

This year, Valassis research shows that consumers are willing to give up convenience and faster shopping methods to save money by taking the following actions:

  • Going to a store with the best prices 79%
  • Using coupons and store discounts 72%

When consumers are in the store, your clients can encourage them to pick up a little treat for themselves or their family. Consumers are looking for opportunities to treat themselves in small ways (22%). Brands responding to that desire can strengthen their relationship with consumers. As soon as consumers see something they like, they’re searching for deals. Finding a discount notification on their mobile device, while they’re in the store, is enough to encourage 77% of millennials to change brands. And consumers may be watching their budgets, but 35% will make an unplanned purchase because of details they saw on social media.

If your clients are trying to build up their store brand sales, now’s the time to make an impression with consumers. Supply chain disruption means shoppers can’t always buy the brand they want. However, 79% of millennials and 83% of Gen Z shoppers have purchased more store brand grocery items since the pandemic started. Using circulars, coupons and promotional pricing, your clients can increase those numbers and build store brand loyalty.

Consumers Have Shown Their Coupon Love

With consumers spending so much time online, it’s not surprising to learn that 73% of shoppers obtain coupons through the smartphones or their store loyalty cards. However, 71% of shoppers are also finding their coupons in newspapers, direct mail or printing them at home from an online site. To connect with the highest number of shoppers, remind your clients to provide their discounts in multiple channels.

The impact of coupons on commerce, especially in times of economic unrest such as these, it doesn't matter which product was the first to offer a coupon in the U.S. All that matters is that it sparked a trend that would carry on for decades to come.

To learn more about specific types of coupon users and the other advertising formats that influence their purchasing decisions, check out the AudienceSCAN profiles in AdMall from SalesFuel.