CPG coupon strategies shift and redemptions fall 17%

May 10, 2013

Different kinds of offers in 2012 affect consumer uptake. Eyes are on mobile as couponing’s future.

This article is from the upcoming issue of Facts, Figures & the Future.

It could take time to become more evident, but e-coupons should emerge as a powerfully effective growth sector of the couponing world.   People already redeem them at a 10% rate vs. 1% for traditional coupons, says new BI Intelligence research.

Couple this with the vast shifts in path-to-purchase, research and reading habits of younger consumers toward online, apps and mobile over print.  Figure in the streamlined logistics of digital distribution, plus better technology to prevent fraud and help maximize relationships with coupon redeemers.

Mobile coupons aren’t just a way to build product trial or lift sales—they’re a potential gateway to broader insights about brand users, especially those who shop with mobile.  This is a key reason why F3 believes CPG and retailers will push for this manner of distribution over the long term, and why stores will invest in front-end systems that readily accept mobile coupons.

BI projects mobile coupons will grow to a 53 million annual rate by 2014.  That’s a pittance of the 305 billion CPG coupons issued in each of 2011 and 2012, 90.1% in print freestanding inserts, according to NCH Marketing Services, Inc., a Valassis company.

Though the same number of coupons was issued overall in 2012, redemptions fell 17% to 2.9 billion.  Primary reasons for the falloff were differences in the coupons issued and their objectives and strategies, explained the 2013 Annual NCH Coupon Facts report.  For example:

  • CPG issued 4.4% more coupons in nonfood categories, where people tend to delay purchases, and 6.5% fewer food coupons, in categories people buy more often.  Categories with the biggest declines in coupons issued were refrigerated foods (down 15.5%) and frozen foods (down 10.9%).
  • CPG substantially increased the launch of new products with FSI coupons—a 23.2% jump in 2012, following 10.0% and 16.8% declines in 2010 and 2011. Because the target audience is smaller for new-item coupons, they typically don’t deliver the same redemption volumes.

About eight out of 10 consumers say they continue to use coupons regularly when they buy CPG products.  Indeed, adds NCH, 26.4% redeemed more coupons in 2012 than 2011, saying they like to save money and need to stretch their budgets as the main reasons.  By comparison, just 63.6% said they used coupons regularly in the 2007 pre-recession year.

Despite a high degree of willingness to redeem coupons, consumers appear to be frustrated in their attempts, indicate findings of an NCH consumer survey.  For example, 46.0% say they “can’t find coupons for the products” they want to buy, and 39.1% say “coupons expire before” they have a chance to use them. 

Nevertheless, “coupons on the whole are the most influential medium of any kind to movitvate CPG purchases,” notes NCH.  “Over 70% of consumers rated coupons #1, well ahead of advertising, social media and even in-store promotions, as the most influential form of marketing for the grocery vertical in the BIGinsight Media Behaviors and Influence Survey, December 2012.”

NCH data indicate that coupon users save an average of $11.20 per shopping trip with coupons (11.5% of the basket total) for the 15 minutes they spend seeking, clipping and planning their trip with coupons.