The Roanoke Times, Va., Shoptimist column [The Roanoke Times, Va.]
(Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 31--Have you noticed any changes to your coupons?
Whether you have or not, the way you spend and save is evolving. NCH Marketing Services Inc., a subsidiary of Valassis, the multimedia company that distributes many print and digital promotions (like Redplum coupon booklets, for example), recently released a report on the state of coupons after the first half of 2013. Avid couponers may be surprised at some of the findings.
I read the report and have boiled it down to five important points:
-- Coupons are valid for shorter amounts of time;
-- The face value of coupons has increased;
-- Most coupons require the purchase of multiple products;
-- The use of paper coupons is down
-- The use of digital coupons is rising quickly.
I've noticed that the expiration date on many coupons is about a month from when I receive it, so that wasn't a big surprise for me. There is some reasoning behind it, though.
NCH reports that expiration dates have been shortened by 3.2 percent, making them nine weeks on average, about a week shorter than before. This cut was led by the food segment, which represents about 42 percent of coupons.
While it's great to see that the value of coupons has gone up, that statistic goes hand in hand with the third point: Many coupons require multiple purchases. That means you may get a coupon offering $2 in savings, but you'll probably have to buy two or more products to get the deal. These coupons are offering a larger discount only because you have to make a larger purchase.
If what you're shopping for is on sale you could still be saving a lot, but you could end up spending more in the long run just to use the coupon. NCH found that once purchase requirements and changes in expiration dates were factored in, the average face value of coupons actually declined.
The type of coupons most shoppers are using is what really piqued my interest. NCH reported that the redemption of coupons is down 8.1 percent. However, the use of digital coupons represented almost 9 percent of the coupons redeemed -- that's double digit growth since the last report.
Digital coupons include Internet and paperless coupons downloaded to shopper cards and mobile phones. Some of this digital growth has been encouraged by retailers.
Kroger recently stopped doubling paper coupons and since then, many Shoptimist blog readers say the policy change has decreased their use of paper coupons. The grocer has also ramped up advertising for its digital coupons. Now shoppers can find a large selection of digital store coupons that can be loaded directly to their Kroger Plus card.
Digital coupon services like Cellfire and Saving Star have been gaining in popularity , too. When you consider sites like Coupons.com and those associated with the printed coupon booklets, it's easy to see why the use of printable coupons is up as well.
Have you changed your couponing habits over the past six months? Join the conversation on the Shoptimist blog at blogs.roanoke.com/shoptimist.
(c)2013 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.)
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