Improving Economy, Increasing Shopper Demand for Digital Offers Impacting Coupon Use

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Inmar Inc.’s analysis of 2015 promotion sector activity finds easing of home-budget pressures and increasing shopper reluctance to work for deals contributing to overall decline in coupon redemption– despite marked redemption growth among some promotion methods.

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While shoppers benefited from improved economic conditions last year, marketers using traditional promotion methods were challenged to engage digital-savvy audiences. As a result, overall coupon redemption was down 13 percent for 2015 compared to 2014. The trend aligns with Inmar’s ongoing promotion sector analysis which has tracked an increasing demand among shoppers for digital offers and less desire to work for deals – particularly as inflation remains almost non-existent and the unemployment rate holds steady in low single digits.

Marketers continued their aggressive pursuit of shoppers through promotion vehicles in 2015, distributing approximately 321.3 billion manufacturer-funded coupons for both food and non-food products. Overall distribution volume was virtually unchanged from 2014 as was the predominance of Free-Standing Inserts (FSIs) as the preferred method of distribution. FSIs accounted for 89.1 percent of all coupons distributed in 2015.

Despite dominating distribution, FSIs garnered only 38.4 percent of overall coupon redemption in 2015 –directly reflecting declining newspaper readership and increasing shopper adoption of digital media as a means to acquire offers. Share of overall redemption for this method measured 43.3 percent in 2011.

Conversely, redemption volume for load-to-card coupons (L2C) increased 19.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 – continuing a multi-year growth trend fueled by more effective targeting of digital offers and increased shopper demand for these easily acquired promotions. This trend has not gone unnoticed by marketers who have increased distribution for paperless coupons to the point that their share of overall coupon distribution has grown 373 percent over the last four years. Despite this increase in distribution there is still a major discrepancy between the volume of print offers and digital offers distributed; shopper adoption of digital continues to lead this shift and manufacturers continue to lag behind.

“As shoppers expect more personalized engagement and demand easier ways to shop and save, marketers must adopt more effective means for delivering discounts to them and earning their business,” says Inmar Chairman and CEO David Mounts. “The coupon redemption trends we’re seeing indicate that the strategies currently deployed are not yet aligning with consumer demand and media use -- leaving shoppers unable to find coupons for the products they want to buy,” adds Mounts.

During Inmar’s 2015 Shopper Behavior Study 63 percent of shoppers said they could not find coupons for the products they wanted to buy. This is a growing challenge for shoppers as 61 percent of participants in the 2014 study made the same comment.

Digital coupons currently comprise a small piece of the overall redemption “pie” (2.5%), but Inmar’s shopper behavior research points to continued growth for this coupon method even as the shopper base becomes more fragmented. Fifty-one percent of shoppers surveyed for the Inmar 2015 Shopper Behavior Study said they wished all coupons were digital while 55 percent of study participants said they would use more coupons if they were more available online.

The increase in redemption for L2C coupons is indicative of the sustained popularity of coupons and their marked influence on shopper behavior. Inmar’s Shopper Promotion Impact Report for 2015 found that 68 percent of digital coupons, and 63 percent of paper coupons, used last year impacted shopper purchase behavior.

In 36 percent of the instances in which a L2C coupon impacted shopper behavior, shoppers purchased the product sooner than they would have otherwise. At the same time, 29 percent of L2C coupon-use impacting behavior resulted in shoppers buying more of the promoted product than they originally planned.

Even more recently, Inmar’s 2016 Shopper Behavior Study found that 92 percent of shoppers say they used a coupon in the last three months for groceries, household supplies, healthcare items, or personal care products and that 48 percent of those shoppers who use coupons say they use them regularly to buy these items. The study revealed also that among shoppers who make a shopping list before they go to the store, 48 percent use coupons to make their lists.

Inmar will share additional findings from its shopper behavior research, along with topline data on key coupon activity for 2015, during the next presentation of the Promotion Industry Analysis webinar taking place at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on Tuesday, February 2. Those interested in attending can register here: Promotion Industry Analysis.

Inmar has been in the promotions industry for more than 35 years and currently processes and analyzes more than 2.3 billion coupons and related campaigns annually -- making it an expert in planning, executing, optimizing and measuring promotions. Recognized as a source for industry thought leadership and innovation, Inmar monitors coupon activity and studies shopper behavior throughout North America to inform regular reporting on the promotions industry, the marketplace and shoppers.

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Sharon Joyner-Payne
Inmar, Inc.
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