Coupon use continued to increase in 2011 as money-saving habits adopted during the recession have become a way of life for many Americans, according to media and marketing services company Valassis.
In 2008, the United States saw its first increase in coupon redemption since the early 90s, with cash-strapped consumers redeeming 2.6 billion of them. But coupon redemption skyrocketed in 2009, up 23 percent on 2008, and has continued to grow ever since, according to the latest Annual Topline US Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Coupon Facts report from Valassis company NCH Marketing Services.
US consumers redeemed 3.5bn coupons last year for total savings of $4.6bn – up 12.2%, or $500m, from 2010.
"Consumer shopping behavior has been forever impacted by the slow economic recovery as savings habits have become a way of life," said Valassis executive vice president of sales and marketing Suzie Brown. "Recognizing this increased demand, marketers continue to be strategic in their promotional strategies to deliver value while still promoting loyalty and meeting their brand objectives in a highly competitive environment."
For grocery coupons in particular, the average value has declined three cents to $1.17 compared with a year earlier, but despite the lower average face value being offered on grocery coupons, consumers redeemed slightly more higher value coupons, meaning that the average redemption value has risen about 1% to $1.05.
The report also found that about a third of consumers claimed to have used more coupons in 2011 than the prior year. In order to manage increased demand, marketers have modified coupon characteristics, with shortened expiration dates, and a growing number requiring multiple purchases.
Free-standing inserts continue to be the most common distribution channel for coupons, according to the report, accounting for 89.4% of CPG coupon distribution. Digital coupons accounted for less than one percent of all coupons distributed in the United States.
Coupon redemption was up 34.6% since 2008 to reach 3.5 billion, the report said, although this was still a long way off the peak year for coupon volume, which was at the end of the last major recession in 1992, when 7.9 billion coupons were redeemed.