Couponing Practices: Tradition Trumps Technology

couponingWith big changes happening every day in the way that consumers are interacting with brands and products, a big question is how quickly they’re changing their habits when it comes to the use of coupons.

Perhaps surprisingly, the results of a new 2014 Simmons National Consumer Study conducted by Experian show that “traditional” couponing activities remain far and away the most prevalent consumer activity.

First of all, the proportion of U.S. households that uses coupons of any sort is right around three-fourths (~74% according to the recent Simmons survey).

And we all know the single biggest reason why people use coupons:  to save money.  That rationale dwarfed any other among the survey respondents:

  • I use coupons to save money: ~64% of respondents mentioned
  • I use coupons to try new products: ~23%
  • Coupons incent me to try new stores: ~7%

But then the data points begin to deviate from where marketers may think their consumers’ minds are at (or where they might wish them to be).

Consider how many of the following popular couponing practices are distinctly “old school”:

  • I use coupons from in-store/on-shelf coupon machines: ~55% of respondents cited
  • I take advantage of rebates on products: ~50%
  • I use free-standing inserts from newspapers: ~46%
  • I use on-package coupons: ~37%

coupons on smartphoneCompare that to the far-lower engagement levels with “new school” couponing practices:

  • I use coupons delivered by Internet or e-mail: ~30% of respondents cited
  • I use my smartphone to redeem coupons at the store: ~17%
  • I have used a smartphone coupon app in the last 30 days: ~9%

These results show that if companies decide to embrace coupons as part of their marketing effort, they’ll need to pay as much attention (if not more) to traditional couponing methods than to newer practices.

Old habits die hard … at least in this arena.