Having worked in the marketing industry, I am often asked about coupons…do they really work? Or do they just cost money? What offers should be used? Are they worthwhile? There are many opinions for and against coupons. Do people really use them? Is it worth the cost of the discount to the business owner? After doing my own research, I say YES, and here is why:
Of course, there is a certain amount of marketing psychology associated with coupon use. A recent article in Psychology Today studied shoppers’ behaviors and their coupon use. One conclusion is that coupons certainly have a psychological effect on shoppers. Surprisingly, they found that it’s not necessarily about saving money for some people. They concluded that the thrill of using a coupon and getting a better deal than other consumers was most important, and shoppers lose sight of the actual cost. The result: Regular coupon users often spend more for an item than those who don’t use coupons. This means that in the long run, the retailer is not necessarily losing money.
Psychology today also found that shoppers often spent significantly more money on each shopping trip. Since many shoppers have flexible budgets to begin with (or no budget at all) and make many purchases impulsively without prior planning, they tend to overspend. these shoppers are particularly likely to over-spend when they come across in-store coupons.
Current Coupon Landscape
A new study completed just last year, the 2K18 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report has some eye-opening statistics on printed coupons that just may surprise you!
Shoppers in today’s world have a variety of ways to make purchases and often switch between online and brick and mortar methods. With customers switching back and forth, it’s often difficult to get them to engage. This presents a new challenge to businesses and retailers that requires innovation to keep up with these shopper nuances, keeping consumers engaged and retention high.
There are different kinds of coupon offers, digital ones displayed on your phone that you use at checkout, those you print out at home, and those that you receive in the mail or with your newspaper, printed coupons.
According to the 2018 Valassis report, coupon usage has been consistently growing over the last three years.
- 84% Choose Stores By Discounts According to the findings, more than two-thirds of shoppers will buy a product only if they have a coupon for it. This makes that product an added item.
- 86% of the shoppers surveyed said coupons have influenced them to try a new product
- 84% shoppers say coupons influence their store choices
- 77% decide which store to shop based on where they can use paper coupons
PAPER COUPON USE
A big takeaway from this report is that paper coupon use has grown the most! The best news is that paper coupon use is up 5% from 2017, which shows that coupons from direct mail and newspapers are a powerful marketing tool, and critical to consumers throughout their shopping experience. It should be noted as well that the use of mailed, printed coupons has increased the MOST year over year!
As a business owner, if you are trying to get foot traffic or more customers in the door, coupons and discounts are a reality. Discount offers in the form of coupons are a great way to attract new customers, promote a new product, offer a sample, or frequent buyer card. As part of a marketing campaign, they can be used to track responses and even different versions of ads by using unique codes.
No matter what shoppers are looking for, they are getting more savvy at looking for every modern advantage – to save time and money. It can be a direct mail postcard in the mail box, a savings app, an email, or a link to a digital circular. As a result, they’re always on the lookout for savings. For these shoppers, it’s more than a mundane chore, it is a quest. As marketers, anticipating their behavior has never been more important to tailor campaigns that get noticed and get responses.
The takeaway is to do research before you try your campaign, and be sure that the offer, the timing and the audience is right!
 Psychology Today- www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201508/why-using-coupons-is-bad-your-wallet
 Valassis 2k18 Coupon Intelligence Report. http://www.valassis.com/landing-pages/coupon-intelligence-report-download