AOL's advertising arm, Platform-A, reports that its business intelligence unit as partnered with IRI to study the latest trends in consumer couponing, and has found that American families are extremely value-focused and eager to stretch their buying power, while newspaper circulation - and thus the traditional vehicle for coupons - is now in steep decline.
The survey highlighted a number of trends that are converging to make online couponing a much more appealing option for CPG marketers. According to Mark Ellis, senior vice president for Platform-A, today's economy makes coupons more relevant than ever to the average consumer, at a time when the rising generations are quite at home with the internet and when newspaper and Sunday circular distribution is declining sharply.
The study found that more than 90 million US consumers (78% of retail shoppers) currently use newspaper coupons, with nearly 25% of newspaper coupon clippers being at least 65 years old. Interestingly, though, nearly 40% of shoppers (some 40 million) are likely to use coupons that are accessed online.
Not surprisingly, the younger the consumer, the more comfortable they are with the idea of accessing coupons online. For example:
- The youngest market segments are the most receptive to online coupon offers, with 51% of 18-24 year-old shoppers indicating that they would be very likely to use coupons presented to them online;
- While historically ambivalent regarding traditional coupons, younger couples are the most likely life-stage group to use online coupons, indicating an opportunity to influence product choices within this segment;
- Young couples without children were among the respondents most likely to use a coupon they found online, followed by shoppers with younger children.
Platform-A argues that value-focused promotion is the clear strategy of choice in the CPG market, supported by the fact that eight of Platform-A's top ten CPG clients now use value-based messaging in their online advertising. Many of these are also using AOL's Shortcuts.com service which allows consumers to apply online coupon promotions directly to their grocery loyalty cards, making coupon discounts paperless and automatic at the checkout.
"What's remarkable is how open young people are to the idea of using coupons online, even though clipping coupons from the newspaper hasn't traditionally appealed to them," concluded J. P. Beauchamp, senior vice president for IRI Consumer & Shopper Insights. "We expect to see more CPG manufacturers using online coupons to court a new generation of consumers and build loyalty during cost-conscious times."