Coupon Industry Analysis by Inmar, Inc. Finds Shoppers Demanding Greater Savings Convenience, Requiring Marketers Optimize Engagement Strategies
Inmar's analysis of coupon activity for the first half of 2017 shows marketers contending with numerous market challenges as they work to reach and activate shoppers with coupons they can use to save when buying groceries. With shoppers enjoying stable economic conditions, demanding faster, more convenient access to coupons and shopping more and more where coupons are not currently available, marketers saw overall coupon redemption decline by 6.4 percent in the first six months of 2017 as compared to the same time last year. Even with this drop-off, redemption totals were still impressive with consumers redeeming more than 1 billion coupons between January and July.
Marketers' efforts to maintain optimum shopper engagement have become more complex as shoppers continue to drift between retail channels for their grocery-item purchases while, at the same time, demanding greater convenience from brands and retailers when it comes to helping them save on these purchases. Compounding this complexity has been shoppers' collective want for more digital coupons.
In response to these demands, marketers have been ramping up distribution of digital promotions. Distribution volume for paperless, Load-to-Card (LTC) offers in H1 2017 was up 51.6 percent compared to H1 2016. Shoppers, in turn, responded to this increased availability with redemption volume for these offers increasing 36.1 percent versus the same time last year. Still, LTC offers comprised only a very small portion of the 171 billion coupons distributed during the first half of the year — accounting for just .5 percent of all coupons distributed.
"Shoppers are expecting a lot from brands and retailers, today," says David Mounts, Inmar Chairman and CEO. "They want offers that are easy to acquire and that can be used wherever they shop — online or in store. Marketers who want to drive greater redemption need to fully recognize and strategically respond to this trend."
Adds Mounts, "Even with more than fifty percent growth in distribution for digital coupons, there is still significant opportunity for marketers to shift strategy to meet shopper demand. With shoppers for the time-being less concerned with saving due to more positive economic conditions, it's critical that trading partners optimize their method mix to ensure relevant offers get to their target audiences through the channels shoppers prefer."
As has been the case for years, Free-Stand Inserts (FSIs) dominated both distribution and redemption for the six-month period studied. These coupons that shoppers find in their Sunday newspapers accounted for 89.8 percent of all coupons distributed and 34.2 percent of all coupons redeemed. Although this method continues to be an important tool for marketers because of easily achievable and cost-effective reach, redemption for these coupons has been in decline as a result of shifting trends in shopper media usage.
What hasn't changed is the significant influence that coupons have on shopping behavior. According to Inmar's most recent Shopper Promotion Impact Report, 72 percent of the coupons used in 2016 affected purchase behavior — primarily moving shoppers to purchase the promoted products sooner and/or buying more of the products.
Shoppers are using coupons to plan their shopping, as well. Inmar's 2017 Shopper Behavior Study found that 69 percent of shoppers are making shopping lists before visiting the store. Among those shoppers creating lists, 41 percent use coupons to do so.
Coupons are also particularly effective incentives for getting shopper to try new products. Research for the Shopper Promotion Impact Report found that 65 percent of shoppers say they would try a new product if they had a coupon, while 58 percent say they would switch from their normal brand if they had a coupon that makes another brand cheaper.