2017 Marks the Demise of Print-at-Home Coupons as Digital Redemption Climbs 67%

Inmar Intelligence | February 6, 2018

2017 Marks the Demise of Print-at-Home Coupons as Digital Redemption Climbs 67%

For the fifth consecutive year, US consumers' redemption of digital coupons increased by double digits, according to a year-end analysis of CPG coupon activity by Inmar, Inc. In 2017, consumers' digital coupon redemption rose 67%, while marketers increased digital coupon distribution by 38%.

Of the coupon activity analyzed, Load-to-Card redemption increased the most in 2017, up 67% over last year. Overall, Load-to-Card, represents 1.1% of the total 302 billion CPG coupons distributed. This level of distribution still remains behind shopper demand, though, as recent shopper research by Inmar found that 53% of shoppers prefer digital-only coupons. This shopper demand is further evidenced in that the Load-to-Card coupons distributed delivered a 10x impact -- accounting for a positively disproportionate 10.9% of the 2.1 billion coupons redeemed last year.

"We're seeing brands and retailers increase their investment in digital coupons as this method enables marketers to more effectively leverage data to deliver relevant and personalized content to shoppers," said David Mounts, Chairman and CEO of Inmar. "However, for all that marketers are doing, there's still a tremendous, unrealized sales opportunity as distribution of digital coupons is not keeping pace with demand."

In sharp contrast to the explosive growth in Load-to-Card coupon redemption, Print-at-Home (PAH) coupons suffered a significant drop in redemption falling 33% between 2016 and 2017. The fourth quarter alone saw a 43% drop in redemption compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Reasons for the erosion include:

  • More shoppers have abandoned their printers in favor of a more convenient, exclusively digital, click-and-save coupon experience.
  • Shrinking confidence among marketers as to the effectiveness of PAH offers drove a 15% decrease in distribution of these coupons in 2017.

Mounts added, "Shoppers have been making their demands known for some time. They want a shopping, and savings, experience that is convenient, supports their lifestyle and delivers real value. They're choosing digital coupons because this method delivers on all three."

As has been the case for years, print coupons included in Sunday newspapers, known as Free-Standing Inserts (FSIs) are still very much a promotional mainstay with marketers, but are less aligned with the demands of today's increasingly digital shopper base. In 2017, FSIs:

Accounted for the greatest proportion of coupon distribution (90.8%)

  • Saw their share of the redemption mix fall 9% since 2016, totaling 34.6%
  • Were partially to blame for 9.2% decline of overall coupon redemption in 2017, compared to 2016

Though select promotion methods have declined, coupons are still extremely popular as 88% of shoppers surveyed by Inmar reported they used at least one coupon in the last three months of 2017. In addition, Inmar's 2018 Shopper Behavior Study found that coupons have a significant impact on shopper behavior: among those who used a coupon in the last three months of 2017, 83% report the coupon changed their shopping behavior — motivating them to buy more, buy sooner, and/or buy a brand they would not have otherwise.

Additional resources can be downloaded from the 2018 Promotion Industry Analysis webinar at www.inmar-insights.com