The Coupon Report: A Study of Coupon Discount Methods

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Despite the savings they represent, coupon redemptions have been declining since the early 1990s (NCH Marketing, 2003). To stem this decline and to increase the effectiveness of their coupon offers, manufacturers frequently target coupon offers to specific consumer segments by using a variety of coupon delivery methods. Therefore, the objective of this study is to examine consumers’ attitudes towards multiple coupon delivery methods to more efficiently and effectively target different consumer segments using the appropriate coupon vehicles. A written survey was distributed to supermarket shoppers from three retailers in the Northeast in eight of their stores. Respondents reported using paper coupons much more frequently than any other coupon type. Almost 75% of respondents reported using paper coupons regularly (“every time” or “fairly often”). Conversely, only 7.3% of respondents said that they use online coupons regularly. Regular users of checkout, in-store, and online coupons were, for the vast majority, subsets of paper coupon users. This pattern appears to support earlier studies which suggest that certain consumers may first need to have an underlying tendency to use coupons. Certain segments may then have a tendency to use specific coupon types over others. An analysis using logit models suggest that respondent behaviors may be stronger predictors of regular coupon usership than demographics. Therefore attempting to target types of coupons using different demographic segments may not be cost effective. Respondents’ attitudes towards 3 coupon features may give clues as to why consumers respond or do not respond to offers via different coupon methods. More respondents agreed that paper coupons and shopper card discounts offer valuable savings rather than checkout, in-store, and online coupons. In addition, online coupons appear to take too much time to find and use. Overall, shopper cards were preferred by more respondents than any coupon method.

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R.B. 2004-07


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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University


Applied Economics


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