Consumers and coupons: The latest stats are in.

Consumers are redeeming coupons more than ever in 2011Coupons are big business in the USA. According to the latest Coupon Facts Report published by NCH/Valassis, a whopping $470 billion worth of coupons were offered by consumer package goods marketers in 2011.

Of this, an estimated $4.6 billion in coupons were redeemed. That represents more than 3.5 billion individual coupons at an average value of ~$1.30 per coupon.

It’s not surprising to learn that the offering of coupons by manufacturers spiked during the recessionary period that began in late 2008, when shoppers were more value-conscious than ever.

But by 2011, manufacturer behavior changed. In fact,this past year saw the first decrease in coupon offerings since 2008 (the drop was 8%) … although the volume hasn’t declined anywhere close to the volume of coupons consumer goods manufacturers offered back before the recession started:

 2007: $373 billion in coupon value distributed
 2008: $379 billion
 2009: $445 billion
 2010: $511 billion
 2011: $470 billion

Not every consumer category behaved similarly in 2011. Grocery product marketers reduced the total quantity of coupons they made available during the year, while marketers of health and beauty products showed no such decline.

With the increased popularity of digital couponing, one would expect that the growth rate in this segment would significantly outpace that of traditional coupons.

That turns out to be correct: NCH estimates that ~11% more print-at-home and paperless coupon offers were distributed in 2011 compared to the previous year.

But digital couponing still represents only a very small fraction of the total coupon landscape, which continues to be dominated by the free-standing inserts that are found in nearly every Sunday newspaper published in America. Here’s how FSIs dominate:

 Free-standing inserts: ~89% of U.S. coupon distribution in 2011
 In-store handouts: ~4%
 Direct mail: ~2%
 Magazines: ~2%
 Coupons inside or on product packaging: ~1%
 Digital couponing (paperless or print-at-home): ~1%

One other interesting study finding is that even though manufacturers reduced the volume of their coupon offerings during 2011 … consumers themselves showed no inclination to reduce their participation.

In fact, coupon redemption was up more than 9% in 2011 versus 2010. Clearly, many people are still thinking in “recession mode” when it comes to squeezing every ounce of productivity from their shopping dollar.

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