Coupon comeback could continue, says Nielsen

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Marketing

Coupons have made a comeback – and their use is likely to continue over the next several years despite a recovering economy, according to market research organization the Nielsen Company.

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 27 percent on 2008, according to Inmar, which acts as a middleman in promotional transactions. 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.

Now the Nielsen Company has said there are growth opportunities for manufacturers and retailers that know who to target with coupons and how, whether through traditional paper inserts, or through electronic means, such as printable coupons on the internet and discounts linked to frequent shopper cards.

The market researcher said that as long as Americans are feeling concerned about their personal finances or lack confidence in their employment situation, they will continue to seek out ways to save money.

“With advancements in coupon delivery vehicles that enable both better targeted coupon distribution and redemption, manufacturers and retailers will continue to have real opportunities to use coupons to drive sales for the next few years and beyond,”​ Nielsen said.

And coupon users may not fit the profile that manufacturers expect, according to Nielsen. Its research found that affluent households were more likely to be heavy users of coupons than low-income households, a situation that it said could perhaps be explained by the fact that affluent people were more likely to read newspapers than the less-affluent.

Newspaper inserts remained the most popular means of coupon distribution during 2009, accounting for 89 percent, but for internet coupons, redemption growth rose 263 percent last year.

The recession was a key driver of consumer trends over the past year, including a move toward good value, quality foods for preparing at home as consumers eat out less, and seeking out ingredients for added health benefits in an effort to avoid the costs associated with becoming ill.

However, according to a Nielsen survey conducted late in 2008, coupons were consumers’ top strategy for saving money, with 22 percent of respondents saying they planned to use them to cut grocery bills.

Related topics: Suppliers

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