Changes and Trends in Couponing
In today’s economy people are still looking for ways to save money. As a couponer and frugal blogger it has been interesting to watch the different trends happening with coupons over the past several years. According to Vlassis, manufacturers issued a steady flow of coupons in 2012, distributing 305 billion coupons to consumers, the same quantity as the year prior; however, the marketing objectives were substantially different for those coupons. Even though we are seeing a steady offering of coupons from manufactures we are definitely seeing some changes such as:
Changes from Manufacturers:
- The value in the Sunday supplement coupons has decreased while the number and value of printable coupons online has increased. Consumers however have complained that they used to see more coupons off single items and now they may be for the same amount but only good on multiple purchases.
- Whether it is due to the show “Extreme Couponing” or just a rise in coupon shoppers, manufacturers are now changing the wording on their coupons to reflect purchase limits. For example all Procter & Gamble coupons now say “Limit 4 like coupons per household per day”. Unilever now limits 2 like coupons per transaction. It’s very important for consumers to make sure they read the fine print on their coupons before they get to the store.
- Kraft, Unilever and Kimberly Clark have all taken a more serious stance on their coupon rules by now including wording such as “Reproduction, alteration or sale of this coupon or it’s contents are prohibited and is a criminal offense.” on their coupons.
- To help fight coupon fraud all manufactures have now gone to the GS1 barcode.
- We’ve also seen shorter expiration dates.
- Mobile coupons are also on the rise and expected to grow to 35.6 million in 2013. Whether it be through QR codes, group buying, SMS or internet via Statista
- We’ve seen more deals for “Instant Savings” where there is no coupon needed for example. Kraft has done several of these such as spend “Buy 10 qualifying Kraft items and get $5 off at checkout.” These particular deals offer consumers more of a savings because they can use a manufacture’s coupon on top of this deal.
- As more and more people get on the health kick we are seeing manufacturers respond by offering for more coupons for organic and healthy items.
Changes from Retailers:
- Stores have changed their coupon policies. Some have stopped doubling and some have limited transactions.
- More stores are offering price matching.
- Stores are trying to increase your loyalty by offering loyalty cards where consumers can send coupons to their card or earn points. This is still not a full proof plan as many consumers have complained that if you had a higher value coupon you were forced to use the smaller value coupon that was on your card already first. On a positive note more stores are now offering personalized coupons through store cards.
- A stores goal is to get as many people in the store as possible so we can continue to expect more changes in coupon policies and limits so that more consumers can take advantage of their sales and offers.
Bloggers are also taking more of a stance on “Ethical Couponing”. Incorporating such topics both in their blog posts and coupon classes. We’re seeing a shift in sale cycles as well. While consumers need to be aware of when things go on sale we need to keep in mind that things can change and try not to rely on that heavily. Consumers should also think outside the box and continue to explore other ways of saving money as well.
As we gear into 2013, I think we are going to see more mobile coupons and apps as well as more e-coupons. I also think we will continue to see stores and manufactures come up with more programs to keep you loyal to them.
Melissa Garcia is Manager of Community Strategy at Collective Bias and Savings Expert at ConsumerQueen.com.
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