“Numbers aren’t great”: Using coupons sinks to historic lows

Inflation is high and money is tight. So now is a great time to use coupons. However, manufacturers aren’t issuing as many coupons as they used to – and now we’re learning that buyers aren’t using as many coupons as they used to.

Kanta was out of the first gate earlier this month with 2021 coupon distribution figures Vericast now follows its own coupon statistics, including for the first time coupon redemption statistics.

And “in short,” Vericast said in a blog post, “the numbers aren’t too high.”

When it comes to calculating a full year price coupon, each estimate will be slightly different. So Vericast’s estimate of 171 billion coupons distributed last year is not exactly the same as Kantar’s estimate of 167 billion coupons. But both agree that over the years, the total number of coupons available last year has dropped by more than 11%.

What’s new is that Vericast’s statistics include the number of coupons actually redeemed last year. It can be argued that the fewer coupons there are, the fewer coupons buyers will use. And that was certainly the case last year. The total number of coupons redeemed in 2021 also dropped by more than 11% to 865 million coupons. That’s an alarming far from the top of the 7.8 billion coupons in 1992, and the number has fallen below the one billion mark for the first time since the early 1960s.

So how’s it going? Do buyers no longer like coupons? Or do they just not like the coupons they are offering?

Many years-long decline in coupon distribution and subsequent redemption is associated with a decline in newspaper circulation. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1992, 62 million Americans received the Sunday newspaper – and its coupon entries. By 2020, that number had dropped to about 26 million This means that once billions of coupons are delivered directly to consumers’ doorsteps, they are no longer available. Direct mail and digital coupons are easing somewhat, but not enough to offset the steep decline in insertion coupon usage.


But there are some additional reasons specific to this last year. The supply chain challenge has forced many manufacturers to cut back on promotions, while some shoppers with coupons in hand have been unable to use them when they go to the store and see empty shelves.

Another factor is the most important factor in explaining the decline in coupon usage. Coupons are not as good as before. The face value of coupons is not consistent with inflation, especially in food coupons – their average face value actually declined last year, from $ 1.34 to $ 1.27. The mix of food and nonfood coupons also weighs more towards nonfood than before. This is great if you want to deal with household items and cosmetics, if you are wondering how you can feed your family then this is not great.

As owner of Save Coupon Insert and coupon processing company NCH Marketing, Vericast has a special interest in coupon success. So they are expressing some optimism about the future of coupons – and some tips to ensure the future of coupons.

“Write coupons at your own peril,” Waricast warns creators. This is not to say that buyers no longer want coupons, especially in times of inflation and cost-awareness. They just want a coupon that works for them. This could mean higher face value, lower purchase requirements, fewer coupons in formats that are no longer relevant to them, and more coupons in format. “It’s about adapting to brands, prioritizing customer needs and meeting people wherever they are,” says Vericast.

One way the coupon industry is trying to modernize its offerings and make them more relevant to a new generation of couponers is Universal Digital Coupon. Several companies, including Vericast, have announced plans to offer mobile manufacturer coupons that do not require printing or loading of loyalty accounts. They can be scanned from your phone, wherever you shop.

After the first grocery coupons were invented at the beginning of the last century, it took almost six decades for coupon redemption to reach the top one billion. Now it takes another six decades for redemption to go down that marker. If the industry continues to do things like they always did, those numbers will continue to decrease. But “guessing coupons are no longer relevant for (consumers) is not only wrong, it misses bigger points,” Vericast warns. “Your brand is still significantly effective when it comes to consumers.”

The redemption of continuously reduced coupons strongly establishes that customers have spoken. The use of coupons in the coming year can ensure that the brand and the coupon industry are listening to themselves.

Photo source: cpyles

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