Coupon Redemption Rises

Consumers like to receive products for free, and if that isn’t possible, they like to get them for next to nothing. Coupon clipping provides an appreciated source of savings for consumers. “Marketers distributed 332 billion coupons for packaged goods in 2010, the largest quantity ever recorded in the U.S.,” according to NCH Marketing Services. Many frugal shoppers, those dedicated to getting the most for their money, approach couponing as a hobby. Christie Harcastle, a coupon enthusiast sharing deals from Walgreens at, explains in an interview with The Palm Beach Post, “People are coming out of the woodwork trying to do this stuff.”

Coupons Increase in Promotional Value

Inmar, a provider of promotions management, coupons processing and business intelligence, would have to agree. Providing further insight into this simple marketing tactic and its reception by customers, Inmar has processed more than 2.3 billion coupons annually. The company closely monitors coupon distribution and redemption across the country, and regularly reports on trends and activity in this sector. Its latest report highlights that coupon redemption was up four percent in the second quarter, compared with the same period in 2010. Following a flat first quarter, this increase pushes redemption up by one percent for the first six months of 2011. This increase was driven, in part, by an unexpected surge in non food coupon redemption. This segment, which represents 35 percent of all redemption activity, rose three percent.

While the free standing insert (FSI) dominated distribution (90 percent of all coupons distributed are from FSIs), the increases in redemption centered on in-store and at-shelf promotions such as instant redeemable and electronic shelf redemptions, which were up 12 and 17 percent in the first half of 2011. “Our data tells us that consumers are still looking for deals, but appear to be less motivated to seek out and redeem the out-of-store offers,” says Bob Carter, president of Promotion Services for Inmar. “Some of their confidence in the economy has returned, taking away some of the coupon urgency we saw in 2009, but the sting of recession has kept most tuned into coupons generally.”

At the same time, there was a seven percent drop in distribution to 167 billion coupons, versus the 179 billion distributed during the first six months of last year. This short term decline indicates a more targeted distribution focus, and keeps distribution volume for the year at the 300 billion-plus level, in line with 2009 and 2010 totals. In the first half, marketers also kept coupon face values steady, while making only slight reductions in expiration periods.  Since these changes had no material impact on consumer response, Inmar anticipates that the second quarter’s redemption activity could indicate an increasing redemption trend for the remainder of 2011.