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.
During the third quarter of 2010 to September 30, 11.6 percent more coupons were issued than for the same period last year, according to a report from Valassis company NCH Marketing Services, Third Quarter 2010 Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Coupon Industry Facts. It found that 2.5bn coupons had been redeemed during the year to the end of the third quarter, up 5.3 percent on a year ago.
NCH vice president of marketing Charlie Brown said: “While CPG marketers have increased their coupon distribution to consumers enlisting new savings-oriented shopping behaviors triggered by the economy, they are also modifying their offerings. What we have found is that marketers are balancing their budgets by managing the coupon offer characteristics that influence redemption velocity."
In particular, average face value increased during the quarter to $1.44, compared to $1.37 the year before, the report found, and expiration dates were shorter, averaging 9.3 weeks, compared to 10.9 weeks.
"Undoubtedly, the return to savings continues to influence the way marketers promote their brands," said Suzie Brown, Valassis chief marketing officer. "They are faced with meeting this increased demand for value while also providing the best return on their promotional dollars."
Free-standing inserts continue to be the most common distribution channel for coupons, according to the report, accounting for 86.7 percent of CPG coupon distribution. The internet accounted for 1.1 percent.