Coupon Use Continues Resurgence

Although economic recovery finally seems to be taking root in the United States, consumers remain cautious when it comes to spending their money. And many analysts believe that shopping behavior that has changed during the recession is permanent. One factor backing up that premise is the continued upswing in coupon use after years of declines.

Consumers have re-embraced coupons as a way to get more for their money. In the third quarter, year-to-date coupon redemption was up 26 percent to 2.4 billion redemptions, making it the fourth consecutive quarter of growth, according to new research from Inmar in collaboration with The Nielsen Company. During 2006-2008, coupon redemption stagnated at 2.6 billion each full year. Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar, which provides logistic management solutions to retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers in the consumer goods and health care markets, is forecasting that 3.2 billion coupons will be redeemed this year, marking a significant increase over recent years.

But while food coupons have typically driven activity, nonfood coupons for general merchandise, household items and personal care drove growth in the third quarter, up 45 percent over the same period last year (food items were up 26 percent over the same period last year). While supermarkets remain the traditional coupon redemption channel, representing 64 percent of redemptions, the dollar/discount/variety and mass merchandiser channels are up at a faster rate.

“It’s clear that coupons have increasingly become an important way for consumers to save some money when shopping. Digital coupons are driving a huge increase in redemptions but still represent a small percentage of distributed and redeemed coupons. Meanwhile, freestanding inserts account for almost 90 percent of distributed coupons, but just over half of redeemed coupons,” said Todd Hale, SVP, consumer and shopping insights at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen. “Moreover, coupon enthusiasts buy more products per trip and generally have a higher spend per trip in the grocery and supercenter channels. The fact is, coupons can yield a significant return on investment, and savvy consumer goods manufacturers should seriously consider how they may be able to play a role in driving sales.”

Progressive Grocer
is a unit of The Nielsen Company.

- Nielsen Business Media
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