Online Coupons: Scissor-less is Sizzling

March 3, 2009

By Ed Dugas

How’s this for a sell?

I have for you a convenient, accessible service which is good for the environment, saves you money, time and hassle, and is available by the click of a mouse. If you can come up with better criteria for a market in recession-seized 2009, I’d love to hear it.

Online coupons have what we call “tremendous upside,” and even though they account for only 1% of all coupons offered in the US, according to coupon processing agent, Inmar Inc. as reported in the Wall Street Journal, their usage grew 140% last year (an impressive clip), and shows no sign of slowing. This is a small but growing piece of Wall Street Journal’s reported Inmar’s estimate that coupons saved consumers $317 billion in 2008.

The Wall Street Journal also cites Inmar’s statistics that “coupon usage has surged 10%” since October, 2008. With dollars stretched to the limit, people are no longer shy about spending time to save money, especially on essentials like groceries. While coupon usage declined precipitously during the economic boom from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s, it’s once again hip to clip for saving (or, now, click).

But online coupons are not just popular in the food and beverage industry. USA Today reports that “Online coupon services such as Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com and CoolSavings.com offer coupon discounts on a range of products from Nintendo Wii to DVDs to food and toys.” Certainly, saving money does not discriminate by industry.

According to a MediaPost Publication report, “A study last week by Packaged Facts found that 87% of consumers not prefer to shop at retailers that offer coupons, and 89% are more likely to use coupons in a recession.”


USA Today
also sites a Simmons Market Research Bureau estimate that “38.6 million Americans will use online coupons (this winter), up 22% from the same period last year…”

Here are some more statistics as reported by USA Today:

“In November, more than $50 million in savings was printed on Coupons.com, more than double May’s total. Shoppers who use the site save an average of $40 to $50 a week, or $200 a month, CEO Stephen Boal says.”

“Coupons.com alone saves consumers an estimated $485 million annually through printed coupons redeemed at retailers.”

“CoolSavings.com, whose business partners include Pillsbury and Hershey’s, says people visiting its site printed, on average, 477,843 coupons a month from July through October, vs. an average of 213,630 coupons monthly in 2007.”

It makes sense that coupons are going digital. According to the Wall Street Journal, technology being implemented by large food retailers such as Stop & Shop and Giant Foods allows customers to redeem coupons from a handheld scanner currently provided in 180 stores. These devices track your savings (you can get rid of that calculator, too) and even alert you to discounts based on your previous buying habits.

Besides, who wants to spend an hour scouring the Sunday newspaper for coupons, anyway? That would be like searching for information in a book. So last decade. And who’s ever gotten a paper cut from a keyboard?

And most importantly, in an economy like this, keeping anything sharp out of people’s hands is probably a good idea.

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