Less coupons are available, just when we need them most

After a turbulent 2020, at a time when coronavirus epidemics disrupted coupon campaigns and long-planned campaigns, coupon availability seems to be returning to normal – if at all, you mean posting the same steep annual fall as before the epidemic.

Kanta has come out with her annual appearance with the trend of coupons being distributed since last year. And despite widespread inflation and cash-strapped buyers looking for deals, the number of available coupons has continued to decline for nearly a decade.

Kantar’s figures show that a total of 167 billion coupons were available in 2021, down 11.5% from the previous year. 2020 was an outlier in coupon distribution that year which was significantly 15.3% less than pre-epidemic 2019. But this 11.5% decline from last year is consistent with the fall of the previous year – 11% in 2019 and 12% in 2018.

The last time coupon distribution showed an annual increase was in 2013, when coupons were available almost twice as much as last year. Overall, the number of coupons distributed in 2021 was the lowest since 1983.

Most of the recession has to do with the ongoing change from print to digital. The number of paper coupons distributed last year decreased by 12.4%, while the number of digital coupons increased by 13.3%. While this is rarely a wash issue, because there were far fewer digital coupons available (8.7 billion) than paper coupons (159 billion), the rise of digital does not make for a paper collapse.

The good news is that digital distribution is on the rise again, after seeing an unusual drop in 2020. But the paper coupons show no signs of reversing the 2020 recession or their ongoing slide


Another data point that has been trending in favor of digital in recent years is the combination of food versus nonfood coupons. The all-time high of 84% of paper coupons delivered in 2021 was for non-food items – so if your Sunday coupon inserts seem to be full of nothing more than coupons for household and personal care items, this is not your fantasy. Food was the strongest in digital, accounting for 65% of the mix.

The transition from paper to digital coupons is most pronounced in certain product categories. Paper coupons saw their biggest declines in frozen foods (43% less coupons available) and shelf-stable drinks (37.5% less), which is precisely the segment that saw the greatest increase in digital offers – the number of digital coupons for frozen products increased 29%. , And shelf-stable drinks increased 29.8%.

One metric where paper still surpasses digital is value. The average face value of paper coupons rose 9% to $ 2.58, while digital face value actually fell 6% to $ 1.78. Food coupons are generally less expensive than non-food, so a large portion of digital food coupons are partly responsible for its small mouth values. Adjusted to account for multiple purchase requirements, the average face value per unit weight is now $ 2.23 for paper and 49 1.49 for digital.

An intriguing aspect of the rise of digital is the increasing availability of only digital load-to-card coupons. “Following the explosion of digital rebate activity in 2020, rebate programs decreased by 24.7% to an estimated 800 million prints in 2021,” Kantar noted. Load-to-card coupons now account for 83.5% of all digital coupons now available, with Retired Coupon.com still the number one online destination for digital coupon-clipping, with rebates amounting to 12.2% total and print-at-home coupons remaining 4.3%.

Some of the decline in the total number of rebate offers available through apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 is due to the manufacturers taking matters into their own hands. The rebates and rewards programs offered directly by Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands “exploded in 2021,” Kanter noted, “offering customers cashback, points and gift cards.” Many of these offers now appear in printed Sunday coupon inserts where brands once offered actual coupons. Now, the use of “QR codes associated with rebate / reward programs, sweepstakes, charitable causes, informative articles, product quizzes, free trials and additional savings” has increased for the second year in a row, Kantar found, from 200 unique events in 2020 to 200 in 2021. More than that.

So fewer coupons and deals may be available these days, as CPG brands offer fewer, targeted offers to see what’s stuck in the wall of all kinds of incentives instead. But Cantor is optimistic for the year ahead: “As both CPG and consumers are battling rising costs in 2022, we can see CPGs increasingly focusing on their best offerings where they face the strongest competition.”

And with our declining purchasing power and the competition to heat up customers’ dollars, it would be a welcome change now for brands to offer them more “best offers”.

Photo source: cpyles

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