Sounds of season: snip, clip, click!

Articles
December 16, 2008

Sounds of season: snip, clip, click!

Sounds of the season are everywhere. Snip, snip, snip. Clip, clip, clip. And now click, click, click, as online shoppers get in on coupon savings. Nothing like an old-fashioned recession to get people stretching dollars in one of their classic ways again. For the first time in 16 years, coupon redemption stopped its slide in this rough economy. “Coupon distribution volume grew by 2.2% in 2007 [and] for the first time since 1992, total CPG redemption volume remained flat compared to the prior year. The grocery segment saw a 6% growth in redemption volume,” read the 2008 NCH Marketing Services Coupon Facts Report.

Sounds of the season are everywhere. Snip, snip, snip. Clip, clip, clip. And now click, click, click, as online shoppers get in on coupon savings.

Nothing like an old-fashioned recession to get people stretching dollars in one of their classic ways again. For the first time in 16 years, coupon redemption stopped its slide in this rough economy. “Coupon distribution volume grew by 2.2% in 2007 [and] for the first time since 1992, total CPG redemption volume remained flat compared to the prior year. The grocery segment saw a 6% growth in redemption volume,” read the 2008 NCH Marketing Services Coupon Facts Report.

How prevalent has coupon clipping become? The activity occurs in 86% of U.S. households which drive 89% of all-outlet dollar sales, reported Nielsen.

It remains an open question whether the shopping public sleeps sounder as a result; they are still spending (and possibly adding to debt and anxiety). Yet coupon searches have definitely spread to the more Internet-savvy consumers. A Simmons/Experian study reports that more than 38 million Americans will use online coupons this winter, up 52% from 2005.  Makers of CPG brands are investing more in online print coupons in a bid to reach younger, incremental shoppers “in a quicker and more cost-efficient way,” Karl Schmidt, director of promotion marketing for General Mills, told USA Today.

While online coupons represented a mere 0.4% of CPG coupons in distribution in 2007, this was up 80% over 2006, said NCH. Moreover, 11% of U.S. households obtain coupons online, and this is up 83% from 2005, according to Scarborough Research.

How do people get their coupons today? In the Sunday newspaper (53%), mail (35%), in-store coupons (33%), loyalty programs (22%), in-store circulars (22%), weekday newspapers (17%), product packages (17%), magazines (15%) and online (11%), said Scarborough. Aggregator sites such as coupons.com (the largest online coupon distributor), couponcabin.com, couponmom.com, and fatwallet.com, as well as direct e-mails to consumers, are gaining traction.

The next growth spurt of coupons will probably occur in mobile phones, if Juniper Research proves correct. They project that more than 200 million worldwide cell phone users will redeem coupons annually by the year 2013, and nearly 20% of them will be in Western Europe and North America.