Statistics show that coupons drive supermarket sales
Coupons have traditionally been a way for manufacturers and retailers to bring in customers looking for a great deal. Recent economic difficulties and the increase in the number of consumers who choose to cook meals at home rather than going out has contributed to a growing interest by shoppers in finding good deals. In February, the New York Times reported that 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed in 2009, which was in increase of more than 700 million from just a year earlier. Using coupons gives time and budget strapped shoppers a feeling of being able to control spending and of being “good shoppers”, an experience that can make a big difference in supermarket profits.
Customers are less loyal to specific brands today than in the past, as evidenced by the growing popularity of less expensive store brand goods, but coupons remain one way for manufacturers to bring in new customers and keep loyal shoppers. In essence, offering customers a coupon is a way to bring the price down on a product when the customer can most use the savings, a factor which may prevent them from choosing a less expensive brand simply for the cost savings. Consumers are also more willing to try new products, and a coupon can encourage a customer who may not have purchased an item to buy that product for the first time.
Shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” have helped fuel the trend of shoppers hoping to rein in big bargains. The show features three people who have taken the use of couponing and made it into a way of life. There are a number of websites that feature coupon gurus who give advice to readers and even speak to large crowds about how using coupons can cut food bills. While the average customer doesn’t dedicate the time to collecting coupons that these people do, shoppers are more aware of the fact that using coupons can save them money on their grocery bills. For manufacturers and retailers, this means that offering coupons has become even more important than ever before, with customers expecting to receive savings on products.
Newer delivery methods are emerging for offering coupons
Coupons offered through newspapers are still the most common, but the demand for coupons has lead to new delivery methods. Many brands offer coupons that are either integrated into product packaging (such as peel off coupons that offer a discount on a purchase of multiple items) or through coupon displays located on the product shelves. Online coupon use is growing, with customers printing coupons from websites that they can then redeem in the store. Some companies have also created mobile applications that send coupons right to a customer’s phone. Some companies send coupons directly to customers by mail, either through targeted marketing programs or through weekly distribution to certain neighborhoods. No matter how a coupon is sent to customers, the redemption rates continue to climb.
Providing coupons to customers has other benefits as well. Many consumers who do not redeem coupons still see them, giving your brand additional exposure. Both customers who use coupons and those who do not report that seeing coupons for a certain product or brand gives them the impression that the brand is more competitively priced, and that perceived increase in value can give customers a more positive impression of a product. Customers who use coupons are also more likely to buy a product “now”, rather than waiting for a sale.
The bottom line is that coupons not only help you attract customers, they also help you retain them. The competition from look-alike brands and store brand goods is more intense than ever before, but coupons remain one of the best ways to attract and retain shoppers,and surely enough coupons drive supermarket sales to these loyal customers.