Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clever Couponing

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the "extreme sport" of couponing, which, according to Nielsen, is fueled by frequent coupon users who "tend to be females under the age of 54 with college degrees and household incomes above $70,000."

Saving money is part of the motivation, but so is recognition for "winning." Coupon web sites encourage users to submit photos of themselves surrounded by mountains of groceries they got for free or for very little cash outlay, thanks to clever couponing.

Sunday newspapers still carry FSIs (free standing inserts) containing coupons, and magazines still print coupons to clip. But increasingly, bargain hunters are surfing in search of coupons or checking their cell phone messages when they plan their shopping trips.

In fact, coupon redemption is on the rise, and, according to coupons.com (logo above), digital coupons enjoy a much higher redemption rate than traditional printed coupons. A quick look at trends:
  • Electronic coupons, available for downloading from web sites such as Afullcup.com and sometimes from brand sites such as Pampers, are increasingly popular. These e-coupons may take the form of promo codes for online shopping discounts; others are printable for use in neighborhood stores or to be redeemed with other marketing partners.
  • Mobile coupons are slowly gaining acceptance. Target just announced it will send coupons to customers' cell phones. Cellfire, which handles mobile coupons for Kroger and other supermarkets, says mobile coupons are redeemed at a much higher rate than printed coupons. People who might leave printed coupons at home certainly won't forget their cell phones when they shop, so this seems like a promising development.

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