Paper or Paperless, Consumers Want Convenient Coupons

From their mailboxes to their mobile phones, shoppers look for coupons everywhere, but convenience is a must. For marketers, it’s important to provide consumers with discounts that are easy to find and use.

According to a March 2019 report from coupon distributor Valassis, almost all US internet users use coupons, and 45% use them at least frequently.

Consumers across the board use physical and digital coupons, according to the survey, but a deeper dive into shopper behavior reveals nuances. Coupons—paper and paperless—are most popular among millennial parents (96%) and parents in general (95%). The general population of Gen Xers (93%) was close behind, followed by millennials (92%).

Younger shoppers are more likely to use paperless coupons, with 88% of millennials indicating use vs. 83% of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers.

“Millennials are the most deal-sensitive generation today, and when they’re parents, there’s an intersection of a very active shopping lifestyle with the greatest deal sensitivity,” said Valassis CMO Curtis Tingle. “For this cohort, marketers can deliver relevant offers that ... drive a higher level of engagement based on messages and deals.”

Consumers also have preferences regarding discount distribution channels. Half of Valassis respondents said they prefer to receive coupons in the mail, and 44% prefer finding deals in newspaper coupon books. Slightly fewer (42%) said they like getting discounts online and then downloading them onto a loyalty card, and 38% said they use their mobile device for paperless discounts. A September 2018 survey from CodeBroker found that most US internet users preferred to receive mobile coupons via text and email.

We forecast that 66.2% of internet users will use digital coupons this year. That number will grow to 68.4% by 2022.

Above all, coupons provide consumers with the deals they’re looking for, but there’s room for improvement. More than half (58%) of Valassis respondents thought coupons should be easier to use. Nearly half (49%) would use more coupons if it was easier to find deals for the items they needed, and 46% said they need to search multiple places to find coupons for desired products. Marketers should recognize and correct these issues to better guide customers on their path to purchase.