Coupons are for the wealthier too

Articles
October 28, 2009

Coupons are for the wealthier too

When wealthier people don’t pick up restaurant tabs or leave poor tips, they’re criticized with sarcastic comments like “that’s how they got wealthy.” Waitresses, cabbies and bellmen have been known to exact revenge, either in person or through social media.

When wealthier people don’t pick up restaurant tabs or leave poor tips, they’re criticized with sarcastic comments like “that’s how they got wealthy.” Waitresses, cabbies and bellmen have been known to exact revenge, either in person or through social media.

Now, thanks to the recession, the upscale among us have a new tactic in their ‘savings’ repertoire that no one seems to mind: they’re using coupons more, along with every other budget-conscious demographic group, according to the Second Annual Consumer Coupon Behavior Benchmark Survey conducted by HarrisInteractive for RetailMeNot.com.

Coupon usage has risen the highest among college graduates and the employed. Findings showed that three college graduates in 10 (29%) find good deals on coupon websites (up from 23% a year ago), vs. 24% of those with some college (20% in 2008), and 20% with high school degrees or less (the same in 2008), the data showed.

Moreover, nearly three online adults in 10 (27%) that work full-time or are self-employed use coupon websites (22% in 2008), vs. 22% of those without jobs (18% in 2008), and 25% of students (23% in 2008).

What else are the well-to-do doing? There’s plenty of anecdotal sightings that they’re buying designer clothes at sample sales. They’re shopping at pop-up stores, where retailers close out slow sellers without harming their marquee brand image. They’re buying food in dollar stores. 

And, according to Forbes.com, this is a great time for them to be renting luxury homes for low dollars—because homeowners who’d rather sell their properties are holding on for a hoped-for price rebound, and are meanwhile “happy to lease them out for a year or two on the cheap.”

Some of their spending retrenchment could be going to investment savings, suggests a GfK Roper survey released earlier this year by Citibank. More than 75% of respondents said increasing their savings is the top change they were looking to make in 2009. About 60% planned to scale back restaurant eating. More than half (52%) are curtailing purchases of new clothing and shoes. And 37% want to maximize rewards programs.

TheRetailMeNot survey on coupon usage further found that:
•    To save money, 62% of online adults seek coupons for online stores.
•    12% never make a purchase without checking an online coupon site first, a significant jump from 8% a year ago.
•    30% of online adults will not purchase at an online store if no coupon is available (up from 27% in 2008). Some 22% will buy the item at a different site (up from 20% in 2008). 

We’d like the researchers to explain why Amazon.com sales are expanding without offering coupons, despite these findings—and what other online retailers could learn from this notable and successful exception.